Playing a number of the top sand teams in the country, Santa Clara ended its sand season with a 7-8 record this year. With six of its eight losses to top 10 nationally-ranked teams, the Broncos collected wins vs. the likes of Cal, Stanford and USF in their second-season of play.
Bronco head coach Jon Wallace was pleased with the team's improvement this season. The team was committed to playing sand and put forth the effort from day one to improve everyday. The team started training in January for the sand season, which allowed them to train longer and with more intensity.
"Last year the girls didn't know a lot about sand volleyball," said Wallace. "This year they came in with some expectations and some hopes. They learned the game this time and were able to reach a different level of competition. They did a nice job - I'm really happy with our sand season."
Playing at Los Gatos High School this season for two home matches, the Broncos hope to build a facility in the near future. SCU is looking at the possibility of building courts where the temporary bleachers are at Buck Shaw Stadium when the MLS San Jose Earthquakes move to their new facility in 2015. "We have our fingers crossed to get three or four courts there which would just be fantastic," said Wallace. "It would be great for our campus life to have some courts on campus as well as for our program. We would run camps out of there and get kids on there, maybe some adult leagues going in the sand. There are a lot of possibilities."
In the near future, with six weeks of indoor volleyball practice ahead of them, Wallace likes where the team and coaching staff are mentally, physically and emotionally. "Everything that we're doing from SPARTA to training in the sand to our student-athlete assessment that we did in terms of learning more about our behaviors and who we are as people has really helped our program and our culture. It's probably the strongest it's been in a while and the girls are excited. They know they're getting better athletically and mentally."
Santa Clara's recruiting is going extremely well right now as well. "We've gotten some great verbal commitments from some incredible student-athletes with very strong academic credentials. The recruits have loved it here because our culture's great and our team has been amazing. Our players are extremely personable and they sell Santa Clara very well. The bottom line is our girls are loving it here and recruits can tell."
A former college and professional indoor and beach volleyball player, Wallace believes it won't take long for the team to convert to playing indoors with this week. "When we go indoors we definitely feel like we can move a little bit more efficiently and be more explosive," added Wallace. "That's going to give them instant confidence. Our girls are extremely fit, really happy with their fitness and they've enjoyed the sport of volleyball this off-season. We're going to continue to have fun with what we're doing and get better."
The Broncos will primarily play inter-squad matches in their six weeks indoors, but may host an alumni match in May. They have also talked with San Jose State about playing each other in a week or two. "We're pretty specific about what we want to get better at and not only getting better but enjoying being in the gym and enjoying ourselves, our team, and the direction we are going," said Wallace.
Looking forward to next season requires the players and the staff to look back at this sand season. This year the Broncos played in the rain, the sun and heat, in front of the Cal band, on the sand courts at Hermosa Beach and at Pacific's new facility. "It was a great experience this season," said Wallace.