PORTLAND, Ore. — Behind a career-high 56 assists from freshman setter Callie Jones, Santa Clara volleyball snapped a seven-match losing streak by defeating Portland 22-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 15-8 Saturday afternoon at the Chiles Center. The victory marks Santa Clara's first West Coast Conference win of the season.
Jones set the Broncos (10-7, 1-4 WCC) to a .249 hitting percentage on the afternoon. Her 56 assists were the most in a single-match for Santa Clara since Nov. 4, 2014, when Kirsten Mead finished with 59 assists as part of a five-set win at Gonzaga.
Five different players recorded double-digit kills on Saturday, led by Sabrina Clayton with 17. Clayton hit .378 alongside 18 digs and a match-high three aces. Jensen Cunningham had 15 kills and led all players with eight blocks. Taylor Odom notched 12 kills and a .526 hitting percentage. Taylor Laugero topped all players with 20 digs.
Hannah Troutman led all players with 19 kills for Portland. Cali Thompson had 48 assists.
Facing a must-win situation in the fourth set, Santa Clara got out to a strong start by winning the first four points en route to a 9-3 lead. The Pilots (9-7, 2-2 WCC) could not cut the deficit to fewer than four points in the fourth stanza; Hailey Lindberg had four kills for the Broncos to help them even the match at two sets apiece.
The Broncos rolled their momentum into the fifth and deciding set by taking four of the first five points. Santa Clara led for all but one point of the final frame and closed out the match with a 6-0 run, which included two kills from Clayton. The Broncos handed the Pilots their first five-set loss of the season; Portland entered the day 3-0 in five-set contests.
Portland used a 9-1 run in the first frame to take a 15-10 lead, which it carried the rest of the way to claim the opening set. Santa Clara came within a point of the Pilots twice at 21-20 and 22-21, but the Broncos committed three attack errors in the last four points.
In the second set, Santa Clara used a strong offensive performance to even the match. Jones set the Broncos to a .344 hitting percentage and Santa Clara had three players hit .500 or better — Clayton (.714, five kills), Cunningham (.500, four kills) and Odom (.500, three kills). Cunningham had two kills and two blocks as part of a 7-0 spree that put the Broncos ahead 11-5.
The Pilots came out of the break with their best offensive set of the tilt. They hit .342 in the third set and Troutman had nine kills. The third frame was the most competitive of the set, featuring 12 ties and four lead changes.
Santa Clara travels to San Francisco next Friday night for its lone contest of the week. The Dons (4-14, 0-5 WCC) have been swept in all five of their conference matches this season.
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