Volleyball

Volleyball Makes NCAA History, Caps 2017 Season at Saint Mary’s

Kirsten Mead recorded her fourth 60-plus assist match of the year during Santa Clara's record-setting night in the regular season finale on Tuesday.
Kirsten Mead recorded her fourth 60-plus assist match of the year during Santa Clara's record-setting night in the regular season finale on Tuesday.

MORAGA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball finished the 2017 campaign by making NCAA Division I history on Tuesday night. The team scored 46 points against Saint Mary's in the third set, the most in a single frame in the 25-point rally-scoring era (2008-present).

The Broncos (15-15, 8-10 WCC) completed the season with a 22-25, 25-22, 44-46, 26-24, 15-11 defeat against the Gaels (9-19, 5-13 WCC) in McKeon Pavilion.

THE RECORD

Santa Clara's 46 points is also tied for the second-most in a single set in NCAA history. Georgia Tech scored 48 in a single-set against Minnesota during the 30-point rally-scoring era in 2004.

SCU broke the Division I record of 45 points in a single-set during the 25-point rally scoring era, previously held by Houston Baptist (Sept. 3, 2016 vs. Northern Colorado) and Rider (Oct. 23, 2009 vs. Manhattan). Division III Millsaps also scored 46 points in a single-set during the 25-point rally-scoring era against Birmingham Southern on Nov. 8, 2013.

THE THIRD SET

The Broncos had the first crack at set point in the third at 24-23, and had a total of seven set points while fighting off 14 set points for the Gaels. Michelle Gajdka tallied 10 of her match-high and career-high 23 kills in the set.

Hailey Lindberg had a hand in the last two points of the stanza, coming through with a kill and combining with Jensen Cunningham for a block on Lindsey Knudsen's attack attempt. There were 27 ties and 13 lead changes in the frame, compared to 13 ties and two lead changes in the other four sets combined.

THE MATCH

Gajdka hit .327 and added 12 digs for the 10th double-double of her sophomore season. Allison Kantor had a 20-kill, 15-dig double-double — her sixth in the team's last seven matches. Kirsten Mead logged 60 assists to reach that mark for the fourth time this season and added 13 digs for a double-double. Taylor Laugero and Tessie Powers tied for the team lead with 17 digs each.

Sienna Young hit. 415 and turned in 21 kills to lead the Gaels. Sarah Chase posted an 18-kill, 12-dig double-double and Madi Wilkerson led all players with 22 digs.

Santa Clara hit .379 in the initial frame, during which Gajdka, Kantor and Lindberg had four kills apiece. They set the tone right from the opening serve, as Laugero delivered an ace that sparked an 8-1 run. The Gaels stormed back into the set with an 8-2 stretch that cut the Santa Clara lead to 23-21 before Gajdka and Kantor produced two kills in three points to give the visitors the early edge.

Saint Mary's won four straight points to start the second frame en route to a 6-2 lead. Santa Clara knotted the set at 18- and 19-all before the Gaels took six of the last nine points to tie up the match heading into intermission.

Following the record-setting set, Santa Clara claimed the edge in the fourth by winning four points in a row to start a 10-4 spree that put the Broncos in front 17-11. Kantor had the last two kills during that stretch. Saint Mary's followed up with a 4-1 run that led to winning 15 of the last 22 points to force a fifth set. Chase had the most productive frame by a Gael outside of the third set with six kills.

In a matchup dictated by offense, Saint Mary's saved its best for last. The Gaels hit .438 (9 K-2 E-16 TA), including four kills by Chase, to close out the night. Chase had two kills and an ace to help Saint Mary's take a 5-2 lead and the Broncos came within one point at 12-11 before the Gales scored three straight — including a match-clinching ace from Wilkerson.

NOTES

• Tuesday night marked the final regular season match in the careers of Mead, Cunningham and Erin Reineking.

• The Broncos are 51-24 all-time against the Gaels in a matchup that dates back to 1979.

• The third frame ran 32 points longer than Santa Clara's previous longest set of the season, when the Broncos took the first stanza from Pepperdine 30-28 on Nov. 9.

• Mead finishes her career with the fifth-most assists in Santa Clara history (4,250 - second most in the rally-scoring era) and sixth-best assist average (10.93/set – second-highest in the rally-scoring era). She tallied four of her five career matches with 60-plus assists during her senior campaign.

• Cunningham finishes her career with the fourth-most total blocks in Santa Clara history (346 - second most in the rally-scoring era) and tied for the sixth-best block average (1.03/set – second-highest in the rally-scoring era).

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