Santa Clara volleyball, fresh off its 14th NCAA appearance in 2012, has hit the ground running this winter and is looking forward to both its indoor spring schedule and the sand volleyball schedule as well. After playing in an informal sand tournament last year in Malibu, Santa Clara will add at least six dates of sand volleyball during the months of March-April with the schedule to be released later.
In addition to their training schedule and competition dates, Santa Clara's volleyball team will host the Fifth Annual Walk For Pancreatic Cancer on Sat., May 11, 2013 at 8 am on the Mission campus (more details to come so mark your calendar today!). The team has raised more than $90,000 over the past five years for cancer research.
Santa Clara will play at Stanford Feb. 28 and then host Saint Mary's on March 5 as part of its two indoor dates this spring.
"Our winter training is going very well," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "We are taking the time to develop both of our middles, Megan Anders and Haley Cameron, to play multiple positions. Both are working hard and are progressing during each training session. We have also put a strong emphasis on the defensive side of the court. Working on pursuing both front court and back court play making opportunities more efficiently."
Anders, featured by clicking here, played in 127 sets with 383 kills, had a hitting percentage of .361, earned 27 digs and 102 blocks with 0.8 blocks per set. She was named to the West Coast Conference First team this past year.
"Having made the NCAA tournament last year, with 11 of the 14 returning, our team has come back to training very strong. They want to continue the history of making the tournament every year and are working hard in the winter to accomplish their goals," said Wallace who led the team to a 20-12 and 9-7 WCC record in 2012, helping the team to a fourth place finish in the ultra-competitive WCC. Click here to see the team's stats and results from 2012.
Wallace is excited about the development of rising junior Taylor Milton as well. Milton was named All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2012, after she played in 127 sets, earned 368 kills with 2.90 kills per set, had 19 service aces, 299 digs and 46 blocks with 2.35 digs per set and 0.36 blocks per set. "Taylor is in great shape and her focus is really good," said Wallace. "We have seen great maturity in her training, that will allow her game to elevate to another level for next season. Haley Cameron is also having a good winter. She is more comfortable in the gym and is really extending herself to improve and be a bigger part of our team offensively, defensively, and as a leader."
Playing an informal tournament last spring in the sand, Santa Clara is turning it up a notch a bit this spring by playing at least six days of sand volleyball vs. other Division I teams in the Bay Area. Bronco assistant coaches Matt Lyles and Aaron Mansfield will oversee the sand volleyball aspect of the program with Wallace working primarily with the team indoors.
"I am excited to start our sand program here at Santa Clara," said Wallace. "We have two very experienced coaches in Matt Lyles and Aaron Mansfield. Both have played and trained with and against some of the best players in the world. Their experiences will benefit our team enormously. I believe our sand season will enhance our player's skills and their competitive nature for sport.
Lyles is also excited about building the SCU sand volleyball program with Mansfield. "Aaron has a wealth of knowledge with the sand game from a teaching aspect, to a player who excelled on the AVP tour," said Lyles. "We started getting accustomed to playing on the beach as a program last year in Malibu vs. Pepperdine and UCSB. The girls found a lot of passion for the sand game that weekend."
From his own experiences playing both indoors and sand volleyball, Lyles knows the challenge of playing sand will help the team improve indoors as well. "We believe that playing doubles on the beach provides different challenges for the girls in the sport and with that, will help them gain confidence with all the skills sets," said Lyles. "We believe that the lessons they learn on the beach will help their development in the indoor game as well."
Mansfield echoed the excitement of Lyles and Wallace and he also has a lot of experience as a former professional beach volleyball player. "Matt and I are really looking forward to getting the girls in the sand," said Mansfield. "Matt's ball control was a key component in his long and consistent career on the AVP. We plan on spending a lot of time teaching our players how to control the ball more in every aspect of their game. We have made some really nice improvements in our winter training so far, but it will be nice to get back into a competitive environment in the sand."