Playing its next four West Coast Conference matches on the road, Santa Clara travels to the Northwest this weekend to play at Portland at 7 pm on Thurs., Sept 29 and then to Gonzaga to play the Zags at 12 pm on Sat., Oct. 1. Santa Clara is 5-7 and is 0-1 in West Coast Conference after falling to then-No. 16 San Diego 3-2 on Sept. 24 in the Leavey Center. Santa Clara has played three straight five-set matches defeating UTSA and SMU in about nine hours on Sept. 17 at the University of Texas.
"We are excited to compete on Thursday night and get after it. We were disappointed we ended up on the short-end vs. San Diego – losing in a hard-fought five-set match - but I thought we played solid volleyball. I felt good about the match and after watching a lot of film, we have set our goals and know what we need to work on this week," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "Portland is a much-improved team this year. They went five with (then-No. 19) Pepperdine and LMU last weekend. We anticipate a tough match with them. Gonzaga is the same way – it lost in four to both Pepperdine and LMU. Both teams are ready and I am anticipating some good battles this weekend."
The Broncos are first in kills per game (14.02) and second in assists per game (13.25) in the WCC this week. They are fourth in hitting percentage (.220). Individually in the WCC, Dana Knudsen is third in hitting percentage (.332) and Tanya Schmidt in ninth (.228). Katherine Douglas is fifth with 3.38 kpg (162 total).
Santa Clara has been running a 6-2 offense this season with setters Alexandra Palmer and Alyssa Anderson leading the charge. Palmer leads the Broncos with 6.28 apg (295 total) and Anderson is second with 5.27 apg (253 total). Knudsen is second on the team in hitting percentage and also adds a team-high 0.65 bpg. Douglas leads the team in kills per game and in service aces with 0.21/s. Douglas is third on the team with 2.19 dpg (105 total). Kaleigh Durket is second on the Broncos with 2.74 kpg (118 total). Schmidt is third on the Broncos with 2.33 kpg (107 total). Bridget O'Hara leads the team with 3.66 dpg (150 total).
Portland is 6-9 and is 0-2 in the WCC. Portland ranks second to last in opponent hitting percentage, assists, kills and service aces, and is last in digs. Ariel Usher leads the Pilots with 2.68 kpg, but she is hitting just .180. Usher also leads the team with16 aces. Monica Jordan paces the team with 8.95 apg which puts her at eighth in the league. She is also fourth on the team with 1.79 dpg. Jacqueli Rodriguez is the team leader with 3.10 dpg. Kati Hronek is second with 2.43 kpg and is fourth with a .235 hitting percentage.
The Pilots have played better of late; losing two close five-set matches to No. 19 Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount after two convincing 3-1 wins over Portland State and Idaho, respectively. They are 3-3 in their last six games with each loss going the distance (five sets each). In Portland's game vs. Loyola Marymount, Usher recorded a season-high 21 kills while tying a career high with 16 digs. Junior OH Kate Bostwick tied a career-high with four service aces and freshman MB Bea Loper's four blocks tied a career high as well.
Santa Clara is 43-8 all-time vs. Portland with the series dating back to 1979, including a 3-0 win at Portland and a 3-1 win in Santa Clara last season. Bronco head coach Jon Wallace is 23-1 vs. the Pilots with the only loss coming on Nov. 14, 2009 at Portland (3-0).
Gonzaga is 6-7 and is 0-2 in the WCC. Gonzaga will entertain San Francisco on Thurs., Sept. 29 prior to the Broncos traveling to Spokane. Prior to the weekend, Laura Day leads Gonzaga with 2.71 kills/s (141 total) but is hitting only .134. She is second on the team with 2.65 dpg and third with 0.17 sapg. Denise van De Mortel leads the team with 9.21 apg. Kristina Lavrisha leads the Bulldogs with 0.44 sapg and is first with 3.92 dpg. Meredith Crenshaw has been a force at the net, leading the team in blocks with 1.02 bpg.
Santa Clara is 41-7 vs. Gonzaga with the series dating back to 1987. Last season it swept the Zags, winning 3-1 both at home and on the road. Its only loss to Gonzaga in the 48-match history was on a 3-2 defeat in Santa Clara on Oct. 17, 2009.
The Zags have lost three matches in a row after winning two matches Sept. 10 at the Hoosier Classic vs. Eastern Illinois (3-2) and Niagara (3-0). After taking the opening set 25-22 vs. the 19th-ranked Waves, Pepperdine regained its composure and romped to a 25-16, 25-16, 25-18 victory in the final three sets. Gonzaga featured a balanced offensive attack that saw six players contribute five or more kills in the match. Senior Laura Day and classmate Kaprina Goodwin led the way with eight kills each.