SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara volleyball team hits the road for a seven-game stretch to open the 2014 season. The Broncos will play three matches in Long Island, N.Y. to open the year. They will then travel to West Point, N.Y. to play Army. Their 10-day trip will end in Boston with three matches at Harvard.
Santa Clara begins the 2014 season vs. Saint Francis at 2 pm on Aug. 29 (all matches are listed as Pacific time). Winners of just five games in 2013, Jason Kozak was announced as the sixth head coach in the 30-year history of Saint Francis volleyball on March 10, 2014. The Red Flash have five newcomers this season and play in the Northeast Conference.
All stats for the Hofstra tournament can be found by clicking here.
The Broncos have impressed SCU head coach Jon Wallace, entering his 16th year at the helm, after 12 days of preseason practice. "Our team has done a great job of working hard and being committed to improve both physically and mentally," said Wallace. "I would rate our practices as an '8' most every day, whether we are working on offense, defense or technical aspects of the game."
After a long preseason, the team is ready to see a new opponent across the net. "We scrimmage daily and the competitiveness has been great, but I can tell they are ready to play someone else," said Wallace.
The Broncos won 11 matches last year, including a 3-1 victory vs. No. 21 BYU. Santa Clara graduated three seniors, including veteran middle blockers Haley Cameron and first-team All-WCC honoree Megan Anders and setter Alyssa Anderson.The roster this season showcases four new freshmen, including redshirt-freshman Kaity Edwards.
Wallace said the four freshmen are fitting in well. "Natasha Calkins seems to get better every practice and Kirsten Mead is an intelligent player with a great work ethic which allows her to pick up our systems quickly," said Wallace. "Gianna Ruggeroli is a tough, hard-nosed player who plays with a ton of passion."
After facing off against St. Francis on Friday, the Broncos will play Lafayette at 12 pm on Aug. 30 in their second match of the season. The Leopards won 11 matches in 2013 and their roster features three seniors. Head coach Terri Dadio Campbell is a 1992 graduate of Lafayette and is in her 13th season as the program's first full time head coach.
The Broncos will wrap up play in Long Island, N.Y. with a 4:30 pm match vs. host-Hofstra. The match will feature audio/video done by Hofstra announcers. Click here to watch.
The Pride won 17 matches last season. They have a senior named Emily Burke on their roster, but unlike Bronco assistant coach Emily Burke '11, a setter from San Jose, this Burke plays outside hitter and hails from Staten Island, N.Y.
The team came back to school in great shape, which has allowed the team to train harder and longer. The Sparta workouts the team has been doing with performance coach Phil Brady since January have made a huge difference. "We are meeting our goals and then some," said Wallace. "Our staff is doing a great job of preparing practices for the team and motivating the ladies to be their best."
The toughest part of double-days for the coaching staff is getting things done around the office between practices. "We are consumed with preparing and running our practices that we have no time for anything else," said Wallace.
For the team, double days are a grind both physically and mentally. "I am sure they wished they could have longer breaks so they can rest longer," added Wallace.
Off the court, the team is really looking forward to its trip to the East Coast. After the three-match tournament at Hofstra, the team will spend the day in New York City - working hard to do as much sightseeing as possible. On their list: the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero, shopping in Soho, the Empire State Building and Times Square. "It will be a great day and you can follow us on Twitter (@scuvolleyball) or Instagram (@scuvolleyball). I am sure we will be posting everything we do," said Wallace with a smile.