With the current WCC Player of Week in Dana Knudsen, The Santa Clara volleyball team enters the second week of its season, continuing play non-conference tournaments. The Broncos (2-1) travel to Utah to play in the La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational at Utah Valley State. The Broncos open up the tournament against Cal Poly on Fri., Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m. Santa Clara will continue the tournament on Sat., Sept. 4 with matches vs. Michigan (3-0) and Utah Valley State (2-1). They will play Michigan at 10 am and then host-Utah Valley State at 7 pm. Michigan is No. 24 in the latest AVCA national poll and Cal Poly received votes this week.
Santa Clara will return home next weekend to host its own tournament, opening the 2011 home season vs. UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 pm on Fri., Sept. 9 and then hosting North Dakota at 1 pm on Sat., Sept. 10.
Headed into the weekend the Broncos are 7-10 all-time vs. Cal Poly, 1-1 vs. Michigan all-time and 1-0 vs. Utah Valley State. SCU defeated Michigan 3-2 in their last match-up on Sept. 14, 2002. It defeated Cal Poly 3-1 Sept. 18, 2009 and Utah Valley State 3-2 on Aug. 30, 2008 in the team's last matches
Cal Poly has already played two WCC teams, falling 3-2 to No. 20 San Diego Aug. 27, but defeating Saint Mary's on the road 3-1 on Aug. 30, 2011. Utah Valley State is 2-1, including a 3-2 over Illinois State and a 3-0 win over CSU Bakersfield last weekend. Michigan is 3-0, including two wins over Morehead State last weekend.
"The Cal Poly match is very important," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "We have talked all week about how important each of these three matches are. We practiced well this week so I expect us to be ready. We need to pass well and serve tough and keep everyone on the same page. I think we are doing a good job of that right now."
The Broncos hit the ball well during their first three games, posting a .269 hitting percentage as a team. During its 3-0 win over Seattle, three Santa Clara players hit .400 or better lead by reigning WCC Player of the Week, Dana Knudsen, who hit .769 during the match.
Through the first week the Broncos lead the West Coast Conference in hitting percentage (.269), assists/set (.14.50) and kills/set (15.90). On an individual level, Knudsen leads the WCC with a .545 hitting percentage, including 27 kills through the first three matches. Junior setter Alexandra Palmer is currently in the WCC's top ten in assists averaging nine per set. Senior libero Bridget O'Hara is currently tied for third in the WCC averaging 4 digs per set. O'Hara set a team-best on the year and individual-best on the year with 18 against Seattle on Aug. 26.
In addition, middle blocker Tanya Schmidt has posted solid numbers through three games, totaling 30 kills, a .379 hitting percentage, two digs and four block. Schmidt (3.97 GPA) is currently a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, which honors the all-around student athlete in competition, community, classroom and character.
Santa Clara posted its highest attack percentage of the year against Seattle (.347), which also gives them the highest percentage in a WCC match this season. The Broncos accumulated 50 kills in three sets in the 3-0 win over Eastern Washington, also a WCC-high on the season. The Broncos posted a year-high 55 assists in 4 sets against Washington State.
"[Utah] is a great place to play for us. We get to travel to Utah and play in a little altitude. We get to get used to it for our conference match against BYU (Provost, Utah)," said head coach Jon Wallace.
"We passed the ball well and hit the ball well [against Seattle] - it's incredible that we hit that type of percentage in the third set [.720]," said Wallace.
"It's definitely really exciting and rewarding to be named the Player of the Week," said WCC Player of the Week Dana Knudsen. "I think that it's a mixture of preparation – because I did a lot of work in the off season, did a lot of work going into these double days – I've been working on my skills and when I got into the game and it was time to apply that hard work. I think that the setters did a really nice job this weekend and our passers really picked it up in the second and third games."