August 29, 2012

Bronco Volleyball Takes Perfect Record To Aggie Invite to Face Utah, UNC and UC Davis


After opening its season 4-0 in its trip to the Midwest, the Santa Clara volleyball team will travel a couple hours north to play at UC Davis in the Aggie Invitational.  The Broncos don't have an easy road once there as they start quickly with a 5-0 Utah team at 11 am on Friday and then face North Carolina at 5 pm, who was picked second in the ACC poll preseason.  On Saturday Santa Clara finishes its weekend play at host UC Davis at 11 am.

"Last weekend we played well and did some good things.  We learned a lot about our team by running three different line-ups and playing with two systems.  Even with a 4-0 record, the attitude in the gym on Wednesday when we returned to practice was 'it's time to get back to business, to get to work on improving'," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. 

The Broncos are hitting .273 this season, with opponents hitting .155.  Santa Clara collects 14.33 kpg, 13.80 apg, 16.07 dpg and 1.40 sapg. When looking at the team's stats the first four game, Wallace said he was pleased with the team's attack percentage, but their goal is to raise it another 20 or 30 points.  "I think we will be able to do that with improvement from our setters.  Alyssa and Chelsea are working really hard in the gym and I am pleased with their development and understanding of what we want to do," said Wallace.

The Broncos are led by Megan Anders who is hitting .390 with 2.47 kpg.  Haley Cameron is hitting .351 with 2.67 kpg.  Taylor Milton leads the team with 3.40 kpg and is third in hitting at .287.  Katherine Douglas has 3.00 kpg and 2.53 dpg with 0.67 bpg.  Katy Schatzman collects 5.53 dpg. She was named the MVP of the SIUE Tournament with Anders and Cameron picking up All-Tournament honors.

"Our middles, both Megan and Haley, did a great job over the weekend as well as freshman Lacey Maas. She made a few really big plays for us at the net," added Wallace. "we have been able to put Megan in different positions on the court and she is handling more responsibility. Her strong play will allow our team to be able to take advantage of her height (6-5).  Taylor and Kat continue to carry most of the load and are steady.  We are seeing consistent improvement from both of them."

This week in practice at the Leavey Center, which is just two days this week due to travel to Davis on Thursday, the Broncos are focusing on playing faster as a team.  "At this point it is about our setters releasing the ball quicker and our hitters trusting their attack routes," said Wallace.  "We will always work to continue our serving and passing.  After last weekend our team understands even more about the importance of serving tough."

Moving forward, this weekend Santa Clara will face three programs with a combined record of 9-2.  All three have already been on the road for tournaments last weekend so they are battle-tested away from home, something not lost on Wallace.

"This weekend has NCAA tournament ramifications. All four teams are from challenging conferences and the team that comes out ahead will really help themselves not only for conference play but for NCAA selection," said Wallace.  "All four teams will be working hard to get into the tournament and we all certainly could be there at the end of the year."

 Santa Clara is 3-1 all-time vs. UC Davis, including a 3-1 victory on Sept. 13, 2007.  After a 2-1 start at the Blue Raider Bash at Middle Tennessee State, the UC Davis volleyball team returns home this weekend to host the annual Aggie Invitational. UC Davis defeated Furman 3-0, fell 3-1 to UAB and closed out last weekend with a 3-2 victory over the hosting Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.  Davis is led by Devon Damelio (3.67 kpg) and Allison White (3.33 kpg) offensively. Defensively Caroline Mercado collects 3.42 dpg.  Running a 6-2, Lindsay Dowd (4.67 apg) and Jenny Woolway (6.92 apg) run the offense.

Santa Clara is 2-0 vs. UNC all-time with its last match resulting in a 3-2 win for the Broncos on Sept. 9, 2001.  The Tarheels were picked second in the ACC preseason poll.  UNC opened the season with a 3-0 loss at Kentucky on Friday as part of the Kentucky Classic.  On Saturday it got in the winning column vs. Long Beach State with a 3-2 victory and then a 3-0 victory vs. Lipscomb.  Emily McGee and Ece Taner were named to the Kentucky Classic All-Tournament team.  Tia Gaffen leads the team with 2.64 kills per set and is hitting .458.  Taner paces the Tarheels defensively with 4.09 dpg.

Santa Clara and Utah are knotted 4-4 all-time vs. each other.  SCU won the last match-up 3-0 in Santa Clara.  Utah enters the weekend flying high, starting at 5-0 with one match going past 3-0 – a 3-2 win at Utah State (3-0 wins s. Southern Utah, Weber State, Portland and Utah Valley).  Utah is led by Chelsey Schofield (3.76 kpg) and Morgan Odale (2.88 kpg) offensively with McKenzie Odale working as the setter (11.12 apg).  Amanda Wasko (2.24 dpg) paces the team defensively. 

In closing, Wallace said the team has specific goals for the weekend.  "At this point, our goal is to improve as much as we can everyday. I saw improvement from match to match last weekend, set to set even. Our goal going forward is to improve and get better every time out.  Improving means getting more efficient with our systems, understanding the Bronco way of playing volleyball more and more.  The consistency of our training will allow our team to improve and be able to be competitive in every match we play."