After playing the last two weekends one the road, Santa Clara will return to the Bay Area this weekend to play in near-by Palo Alto at the Stanford Invitational. The Broncos, 6-1 on the year, have notched their best start since 2008 when they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Washington (advanced to the Elite Eight).
This weekend Santa Clara plays at No. 8 Stanford (3-2) on Fri., Sept. 7 at 7 pm. They will then face an undefeated Pacific team (6-0) at 12 pm on Sat., Sept. 8 and end the Stanford Invitational with an 8 pm match vs. Loyola Chicago (5-2) later that day.
This weekend Wallace said the team will look to play one match at time and not look forward or backward as the weekend progresses. "Our philosophy is to prepare for each match we play. We are really trying to make the preparation harder than the match. When the match comes, we want to play in the moment and enjoy playing Bronco volleyball. Last weekend our team did a great job of playing every match, every point, as hard as they could. The character and the trust of this team are really coming through on match day."
Taylor Milton and Megan Anders were named to the Aggie Invite All-Tournament team last weekend. Anders hit .312 for the weekend at UC Davis, including a sparkling .560 with 15 kills and just one error in 25 attempts in the win over Davis. She averaged 2.00 kpg and 0.60 bpg in three matches. Anders leads the team this season with a .356 hitting percentage, averaging 2.23 kpg and 0.90 bpg.
Milton hit .214 with 39 kills on the weekend. She collected a match-high 20 kills, hitting .405 vs. Utah. Milton also had 13 digs in the Utah match and 14 digs vs. UNC. She leads the team with 3.00 kpg and 90 kills; and she has collected 2.30 dpg, good for third on the team. She was also named to the all-tournament team the opening weekend in Illinois.
"We are finding more consistency with the speed of our offense. We are also working a lot on our block, in particular the placement of our hands. We like the development of Kayla Lommori and Lexi Williamson. Both are doing a great job as seniors in leading our team to grow and improve every day," said Wallace.
No. 8 Stanford finished 1-1 in last weekend's Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic in State College, Pa. The Cardinal dropped a five-set match to then-No. 4 Penn State at Rec Hall, but bounced back to top No. 18 Florida in four sets. Carly Wopat and Morgan Boukather were selected to the All-Tournament team.
"Stanford has some unbelievable talent. They start a lot of freshmen and it's one of the best classes in years at Stanford and maybe anywhere in the country," said Wallace. "To compete, we are going to have to serve very tough. We are going to have to be really trusting in ourselves and our style of play; and somehow we are going to have to extend rallies. This will be a good test for our team. I believe this match will make us better win or lose. Our team has the ability to learn a lot and get a lot better. I like our progression so far."
Pacific is 6-0 entering this weekend. Freshman Kat Schulz was named the Big West Player of the Week last weekend. On their home court, Schulz put together a stellar weekend to help lead the Tigers to a perfect 3-0 record and the Community Bankers Classic title. Schulz posted her first two career double-doubles with 15 kills and 14 digs against Nevada before tallying 10 kills and 12 digs in the finale. She hit a season-best .560 vs. Nevada. She also averaged 4.44 dpg as she posted double-digit digs in all three matches.
"Pacific is undefeated and they will join our conference in a year so both of our teams will be up for this match," said Wallace. "The last time we played them we lost in five after being up 2-0 and we still have a bitter taste in our mouth about that match. We are looking forward to playing them."
Santa Clara will play Loyola Chicago for the first time in school history. Loyola Chicago is playing its third straight out-of-state tournament this weekend. They are 5-2, having swept the La Salle Tournament with a 3-0 record and then finished 1-2 at the Jessica Barkman Memorial Volleyball Classic in Terre Haute, Ind. last weekend. The Ramblers and the Broncos already have two common opponents played this season. Santa Clara defeated SIUE 3-1 and Loyola lost to the Cougars 3-1 in its last match. SCU swept Western Illinois 3-0 and Loyola lost 3-0.
"Loyola Chicago is 5-2 and is yet to play at home like us. They are a tall team," added Wallace.
Next weekend the Broncos travel to Cal State Fullerton to play four matches in two days vs. San Diego State (11 am) and Oregon State (4 pm) on Fri., Sept. 14 and then vs. Brown (9:30 am) and host Cal State Fullerton (2:30 pm) on Sat., Sept. 15. The Broncos finally return home on Thurs., Sept. 20 to host Gonzaga in the team's league opener at 6 pm.