By Carolyn Linck, '11
The Santa Clara University volleyball team released its 2011-12 schedule, including preseason matchups against top opponents 2010 Final Four participant University of Texas, SMU and University of Michigan. The season, broken into three parts by Bronco head coach Jon Wallace (preseason, West Coast Conference play and postseason) will challenge the Broncos quite a bit.
Wallace is looking forward to the fall to see how far they've come in spring workouts.
"I'm really excited about our 2011 schedule," said Wallace, who will enter his 13th year in 2011. "We have four really strong preseason tournaments that will really prepare us for conference play, which I think will be much tougher this year. All of the WCC teams are getting stronger and the addition of BYU to the conference will force everyone to step their game up."
The Broncos open their 2011-12 campaign at the Seattle University Tournament Aug. 26-27, facing host Seattle University, Washington State and Eastern Washington.
"I think our first weekend in Seattle will be a great way for us to open up the season," said Wallace. "We are comfortable going up against these teams, and I think these games will help us solidify what we need to do to prepare for the rest of season."
In September the Broncos will play in three more preseason tournaments – the Utah Valley State Tournament Sept. 2-3, the Santa Clara Home Tournament Sept. 9-10 and the University of Texas Tournament Sept. 16-17. The University of Texas Tournament promises to be a large test for the Broncos, as the Longhorns are one of the top volleyball programs in the nation.
"I'm really looking forward to this tournament, especially our match against host Texas," explained Wallace. "They are a team fit to go to the Final Four and I think it will be a great experience to play them on TV and in front of an audience of 3,000-4,000 people. I want our girls to be in the match and say, 'This is where we want to be and will be.'"
On Sept. 24 the Broncos will begin WCC play at home against the University of San Diego. The Toreros dominated the WCC last season but in 2011 Wallace expects the entire conference to be competitive.
"I think the conference will have more parity than ever before this year. Playing on the road is going to be tough, especially with the addition of BYU. I expect all the usual suspects to be good – USD, LMU, Pepperdine, St. Mary's – but I think we will be able to compete. We are much improved with health and experience coming back."
This spring the Broncos have focused on staying healthy and conditioning.
"With better health and conditioning we were able to train longer and harder than ever before. The girls are older now and realize that every practice is an opportunity to improve. Hopefully by maintaining this mindset we will be able to win matches in the fall," said Wallace.
The Broncos also just hosted their third annual Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer on May 7. The walk was a huge success with more than 300 walkers. Funds in excess of $20,000 were raised for pancreatic cancer research.
"The walk was great," said Wallace. "It's neat because it's a coming together of not just volleyball interest but community interest as well. It supports a great cause and we are happy to be a part of it.