SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball looks for its fourth straight tournament win this week at the Boise State Invitational. The 17th-ranked Broncos take on Arizona State and host Boise State on Friday, followed by a lone matchup with UC Davis on Saturday.
Santa Clara is off to its best start in program history at 9-0 and has achieved its highest national ranking in nearly a decade.
Last weekend, Santa Clara swept Grand Canyon on Friday and triumphed in four-set matches against West Virginia and Cal on Saturday to win the Cal Classic. Nikki Hess garnered Tournament MVP honors while Hailey Lindberg and Taylor Odom were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Santa Clara scored its third sweep of the season Friday night with a 25-17, 25-19, 26-24 victory over Grand Canyon. On Saturday, the Broncos opened with a 16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-21 win over West Virginia, then clinched the tournament crown on the strength of a 16-25, 25-19, 25-13, 29-27 win against Cal.
For the season, Santa Clara's set record is 27-6. The Broncos are one of only 11 unbeaten teams in the country and one of only eight teams with a mark of 9-0 or better. They rank 12th in the NCAA with 1.94 aces/set and 33rd in the NCAA with a .154 opposing hitting percentage.
Hess led Santa Clara with 34 kills and six aces alongside 35 digs — second to only libero Taylor Laugero — and four total blocks en route to Tournament MVP Honors. She hit an efficient .348 with eight kills and no attacking errors in Santa Clara's sweep of the Antelopes; she added six digs. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native played a pair of well-rounded matches on Saturday, producing double-doubles in victories over the Mountaineers (16 kills, 13 digs) and Golden Bears (10 kills, 16 digs) to give her five on the season.
Laugero ranks 11th in the nation and 1st in the West Coast Conference with 5.45 digs/set. She ranked 5th in that category after the first weekend and 3rd after the second weekend. The freshman has 20+ digs in four straight matches Aug. 27-Sept. 3.
Lindberg ranks 27th in the NCAA with a .405 hitting percentage. She hit .739 (11 K – 1 E – 13 TA) in Santa Clara's sweep of Grand Canyon on Friday.
SCU SEASON NOTES
- Santa Clara is off to its best start in program history at 9-0, which marks just the fourth time in its 54-year history that the Broncos have started 6-0 or better. The team's previous best start was 7-0 in 2005, when it reached the NCAA Tournament's Final Four. The Broncos matched that mark with a sweep of Grand Canyon on Friday, Sept. 9 and broke it with a four-set win over West Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 10.
- Santa Clara defeated No. 7 USC 3-1 on Aug. 27. The Trojans are the highest-ranked team the Broncos have defeated in SCU regular season history. Santa Clara defeated No. 5 Arizona and No. 5 Stanford in back-to-back weeks during the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
- Kirsten Mead took home her second career West Coast Conference Player of the Week award Aug. 29.
- Santa Clara plays its first 14 matches away from the Leavey Center, which matches the longest stretch to start a season in program history. The Broncos have six true road matches and eight neutral site contests before their home opener Tuesday, Sept. 27 against Pacific. They had 14 straight contests away from home in 2012, and went 10-4 to open the season.
- The Broncos have earned three Tournament MVP awards and nine All-Tournament team selections in the first three weeks of the season:
The Sun Devils enter the weekend at 6-3. They have gone 2-1 in each of their three tournaments to start the season. Last weekend, Arizona State was swept by Pepperdine before sweeping Harvard and defeating Long Beach State in five sets.
Oluoma Okaro leads the team in several categories: kills (101), hitting percentage (.321), total blocks (37.0) and aces (14).
The Broncos enter the weekend at 5-4. They defeated Idaho State 3-1 last Thursday before falling against BYU 3-0 on Friday and Missouri 3-1 on Saturday. Boise State posted a four-match winning streak Sept. 2-8.
The team is ranked 29th in the NCAA with 14.13 kills/set. Maddi Osburn ranks 5th in the NCAA with 5.77 digs/set and Sierra Nobley ranks 14th in the country with 4.65 kills/set — she has amassed 144 kills this season.
The Aggies enter the weekend at 5-5. They outlasted Southern Utah in a five-set match Friday before being swept by Gonzaga and falling to Nevada in five sets Saturday. UC Davis began the week by sweeping Sacramento State on Tuesday.
Kelechi Ohiri ranks 24th in the nation with 1.41 blocks/set. She has 41 total blocks for the season.
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