Behind four Broncos with double-digit kills, including senior Megan Anders, who scored 18, hitting .486, Santa Clara started off West Coast Conference play with a 3-1 win at Pepperdine. Set scores were 25-21, 27-29, 25-23 and 25-23.
Santa Clara is 6-4 and 1-0 in WCC play and Pepperdine is 6-3 and 0-1 in WCC play. SCU travels to Los Angeles for a 12 pm match at LMU on Saturday. LMU swept USF Thursday night.
"It was a battle. Each game was really close. We really kept our focus, our composure and kept going," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "We had fun and just kept playing. We have to get better, but I think we will. We have already identified some things we need to get better at, but I was really pleased. We have our work cut out for us on Saturday, but I really like were we are right now."
Santa Clara hit .265 with 65 kills (20 e, 170 att.). They collected 65 digs, 59 assists, three service aces, 11 service errors and 20 team blocks. Pepperdine hit .214 with 60 kills (26 e, 159 att.). They collected 74 digs, 58 assists, five service aces, seven service errors and 11 team blocks.
Santa Clara was led individually by Anders, who hit .486 with 18 kills (1 e, 35 att.). She also scored two block solos and four block assists. "Megan caught fire," said Wallace. "We weren't riding her for points like we were in the past and tonight we said 'let's set her every ball.' We loosened up the block a little bit. Alyssa did a great job of finding her."
Nikki Hess hit .351 with 15 kills (2 e, 37 att.) and 15 digs. Taylor Milton scored 12 kills with 10 digs. Sabrina Clayton added 10 kills with six digs, a block solo and four block assists. Haley Cameron collected seven kills, a block solo and five block assists. Alyssa Anderson paced the offense with 52 assists and 14 digs, scoring three block assists. Danielle Rottman picked up 15 digs and Mary Shepherd knocked down an ace with two digs.
"I give a lot of credit to Dani, Nikki and Taylor for passing so well tonight. Pepperdine served great and they were all three very tough in serve-receive," said Wallace.
Pepperdine's Katie Messing scored team-high 17 kills. Kelley Larsen added 12 and Taylor Racich picked up 15 with three aces. Becca Strehlow had 42 assists, 22 digs and five kills. Jillian Bergeson had 20 digs.
The teams tied it up four times before Pep took a 12-8 lead by going on a 4-1 run to open the first set. The Broncos scored four of five to pull within one, 13-12 on a kill by Anders. The teams once again tied it up four times before SCU started to roll on an ace by Mary Shepherd, an error by Racich and a team block by Lacey Maas and Anders. Pepperdine called a timeout down 21-18. The Broncos scored four of the next six points, including a kill by Anders, to close out set one 25-21.
In the second set, the teams were tied up seven times before Pep scored three straight to go up 14-11. The Broncos kept battling, tying it up 16-16 before Hess crushed an ace and the Waves called for timeout. The Broncos took a 21-17 lead on back-to-back kills by Clayton. Pep wasn't done yet, scoring three kills with a Bronco attack error laced in to tie it up 21-21. Timeout Santa Clara. The teams battled back and forth, tying up six times. A kill by Brooke Honeycutt and an ace by Katie Messing gave Pep a 29-27 set two win.
The Broncos jumped out to a 6-1 and then 7-2 lead in the third set. After trading points, Pep pulled within two on a dump by Anderson. The Broncos went on a run, but again Pep rallied to pull within one on an ace by Racich, 12-11 Broncos. After Pep tied it up, Anders kill put SCU up 14-13. The two teams tied it up three times before the Bronco jumped ahead 20-16 on two Pep errors and a kill by Anders and a team block by Clayton and Anders. A team block by Pep tied it up 21-21 and another ace by Racich gave Pep a one point lead. Timeout Santa Clara. A kill by Anders and two by Hess put SCU up 24-22. After a service error by Clayton, Anders crushed it to give SCU a 25-23 third set win.
The two teams were knotted up 10 times in the fourth set. Hess scored a kill to the back row to put SCU up 12-11. Back-to-back kills by Pep and a team block put Pep up 14-12 before Jillian Bergeson served it out and a Cash attack error tied it up 14-14. Larsen's kill and another ace by Racich put Pep up 16-14, but a kill by Clayton and another by Anders tied it up 16-16. A kill by Cash and error by Clayton put the Waves up 18-16. Timeout Broncos. Back-to-back kills by Anders tied it up 18-18. Timeout Pepperdine. The Waves scored three of the next four to go up 21-19. The teams traded points until a Messing service error put SCU within one, down 22-21. The teams traded points again with Cameron scoring in the middle, 23-22. A team block by Anderson and Cameron tied it up at 23-23. Timeout Pepperdine. The Broncos closed out the fourth set on a kill by Milton and an attack error by the Waves on match point. 25-23 Broncos.
"Pepperdine is really good. They passed nails tonight. They ran their system really well tonight - probably better than we did - and played out of their minds defensively," added Wallace.