The Santa Clara Broncos will play two important West Coast Conference matches this weekend with Portland coming to town on Thurs., Oct. 3 at 6 pm and the Broncos hosting Gonzaga on Sat., Oct. 5 at 1 pm.
Santa Clara enters the week at 6-6 with a 1-2 league record. The Broncos played just one match last week and it was a bit of a heartbreaker, falling 3-2 vs. USF after taking a 2-0 lead.
Bronco head coach Jon Wallace said the team and the coaches reflected on the USF loss on their long weekend off. "We watched the tape and we found some holes in our line up that we need to tweak and develop. We addressed those things this week," said Wallace. "The solution is to work hard and solve the problem. Our girls are up for that. They took the loss pretty hard and very seriously. We are growing, we're changing and that's the only way you can look at that."
The Broncos are led by Megan Anders and Haley Cameron in the middle. Anders is hitting .297 with 3.00 kpg. Cameron has scored 2.04 kpg and is hitting .287. Freshmen Nikki Hess (2.57 kpg) and Sabrina Clayton (team-leading 3.09 kpg) continue to help pace the team offensively. Alyssa Anderson is running more of a 5-1 these days and has 9.13 apg, .32 sapg and 2.64 dpg. Danielle Rottman leads the team with 3.17 dpg and Taylor Milton plays all six to score 2.51 kpg, .26 apg and 2.11 dpg.
Portland enters the week at 0-13 and 0-4 in the WCC. Santa Clara is 47-8 all-time vs. Portland with the series dating back to 1979, including a couple victories vs. the Pilots last year. Wallace is 27-1 vs. the Pilots with the only loss coming on Nov. 14, 2009 at Portland (3-0).
Gonzaga is 5-8 and 1-3 in league play. Santa Clara is 45-7 vs. Gonzaga with the series dating back to 1987. Last season it swept the Zags, for the third straight year. Wallace's only loss to Gonzaga in the 52-match history was a 3-2 defeat in Santa Clara on Oct. 17, 2009.
Wallace knows there is no easy out in the WCC and looks for his team to be a little more aggressive as the season progresses. "We need to take every opportunity and whether that is passing or serving or attacking, those areas in particular, we need to be driving the bus. We need to be dictating the tempo. We need to swing, pass and block to score points and get after it."
While the team and coaches took the come-back win by USF hard last Thursday, he saw some new bounce in their step this week. "They really want to see another opponent, " said Wallace. "They wanted to keep playing last Thursday night after the lost. They're going to be ready - they are very motivated. This is a smart group and they know how to compete. This week's practices have been great and I believe they're going to come out firing on Thursday night and continue that through the weekend."
Wallace said despite the SCU record, which includes losses to three top 25 teams, the team is excited to get better every week. "From Nikki Hess and Sabrina Clayton, who are freshmen, to a Haley Cameron, who came in this week seeming more determined to get better. Alyssa Anderson has been trying to be more of a leader on the court and with her teammates and that's good. It's been a great environment in the court this week. I think collectively as a group they are very focused."