Going five sets seems to be the way to win for the Broncos. Winning its fifth five set match in seven tries this season, the Santa Clara volleyball team came back after being down 2-1 to defeat host-Cal State Fullerton in its final match of the Fullerton Classic on Saturday afternoon. Playing its fourth match in 24 hours, including a 3-2 win over San Diego State on Friday, the Broncos defeated the Titans 11-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-23 and 15-9. Santa Clara moves to 10-4 and Cal State Fullerton, who plays its second match tonight, is 6-6.
Bronco head coach Jon Wallace likes what he sees of the Broncos right now. The Broncos begin conference play next Thursday with a 6 pm match vs. Gonzaga. "We played a lot of sets of volleyball for sure in the preseason (seven five-set matches. We learned a lot about ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically. We now know we are in pretty good shape and can sustain our energy in these tournaments. We have had good contributions from different players at different times. Everyone plays together more and that makes us better. I know we have a ways to go, but really like our energy and our effort."
Wallace said the Titans served his team off the court in the first set and the team just wasn't passing well. "We couldn't pass in the first set. Then the team settled down a bit and we just competed hard," said Wallace. "Four in one weekend is so hard, especially with the home team last. Cal State Fullerton is good and they were totally prepared for us. They came out and jumped us. The first set we looked tired. We looked mentally and physically fatigued. But I thought the coaching staff did a great job of staying calm and true. We didn't yell – we just responded in a good, calm way. We got comfortable with not playing our best volleyball and played even better because of that. I am really proud of our efforts this weekend – this was a very tough challenge."
Santa Clara hit .130 with 50 kills. They had 50 assists, four aces, 67 digs and 13 team blocks. The Titans hit .136 with 50 kills as well. They had 47 assists, 10 aces, 68 digs and 13 team blocks.
Santa Clara was led by Taylor Milton, who hit .200 with 17 kills. Kayla Lommori hit .364 with 15 kills. Katherine Douglas had 10 digs and three kills. Megan Anders had seven block assists and nine kills. Setters Alyssa Anderson (26 assists, 13 digs) and Chelsea Heier (18 assists, 11 digs) continued to pace the team offensively. Danielle Rottman came off the bench to collect a personal best 12 digs.
The Titans were led by Kayla Neto's 14 kills and Bre Moreland's 13. Julie Consani and Gabrielle Dewberry both had four aces.
Tied twice times in the early going of set one, SCU scored three straight to take a 5-4 lead on a kill by Rambis. The teams tied up it up at six on a kill by Williamson before CSF scored four straight, including a kill by Bre Moreland, an attack error by Cameron and an ace. Timeout Broncos. The Titans scored three more, its seventh straight point, before Wallace whistled for time again, 13-6 Broncos. Out of the Bronco timeout, the Titans scored seven more, their 14th straight points. Finally a kill by Cameron stopped the run, with the Broncos down 20-7. The teams traded points before an ace by Moreland made it 22-8. A kill by Rottman followed an error by Best, 22-10 Titans. The Titans scored three of the next four points to win set one 25-11. Santa Clara hit .000 with 7 kills. The Titans hit .296 with 11 kills.
"We knew we didn't pass well in the first game," said Wallace. "We sat Kayla and Kat down mid-way through the first set and let them watch. What we did later in the first set helped us win game two."
In the second set, the two were tied at 2-2 before the Broncos rallied to win 8 of the next 10 points to take a 10-5 lead. The Titans rallied for six of the next seven to tie it up 13-13 before the Broncos scored three straight on a kill by Lommori and two by Anders, 16-14 Broncos. Timeout Cal State Fullerton. Moving forward, a kill by Kissell and a ball handling error by Anderson stopped the rally and the Broncos won set two 25-22
In set three, Fullerton won 25-16, hitting .194 with 10 kills. The Broncos had trouble offensively, hitting -.026 with 10 kills and 11 errors.
In the fourth set, the Broncos went up 19-12 before the Titans scored three of the next four points. Moving forward, the Titans rallied to score nine of the last 12 points before Milton crushed it to win set four 25-23.
"Winning the fourth set and going into another fifth set, we felt pretty comfortable. We got off to a good start and things went our way," Wallace.
In the fifth and deciding set, the Broncos raced out to a 4-1, including a kill by Douglas. The Titans rallied for two points before Milton's kill made it 5-3. Another Milton kill was followed by a kill by Williamson and another by Cal State Fullerton and then a kill by Milton, her 17th, to make it 8-5 Broncos. An error by Holland Crenshaw made it 9-5 Broncos. Timeout Cal State Fullerton. Neto put together back-to-back kills for her 14th and 15th of the match. Timeout Santa Clara, up 9-7. A kill by Williamson and an ace by Williamson made it 11-7. An error by Neto pushed the Broncos lead to six. A kill by Moreland put it to 13-8 Broncos. Lommori added her 14th kill of the day to make it 14-8. An attack error by Moreland gave the Broncos a 15-9 deciding set victory.
Wallace thinks the key to winning the fifth set for this team is to settle down. "Today we were able to get off to a good start in the fifth set and that helped us. We believe in what we are doing. We made some plays well early in that game and that helped us. We got a block, a good swing and some good serves and that gave us some momentum."