SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball continues its road-heavy start to the season Friday night for its lone match of the week — a 7 p.m. road contest against West Coast Conference rival San Francisco. The Broncos defeated Portland in five sets Saturday night for their first conference win and first five-set win of the season.
Following the long road swing, which features 17 of 18 matches away from the Leavey Center, the Broncos will play five of their next seven and eight of their final 12 matches at home.
Behind a career-high 56 assists from freshman setter Callie Jones, Santa Clara 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. Jones set the Broncos 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.
Jones has started the last 11 matches at setter in place of the injured Mead. The Phoenix native has totaled 417 assists for a 9.7 assist/set average since entering the starting lineup. Facing the Pilots, she bested her previous career-high of 47 assists from two games prior against Pacific.
Nikki Hess and Sabrina Clayton each posted double-digit kills in all three of Santa Clara's matches last week. Hess started the week with a 22-kill outing against Pacific and tallied 46 kills overall. Clayton hit .378 and led the Broncos with 17 kills against Portland.
Taylor Laugero enters the third weekend conference play ranked second in the WCC with 4.51 digs/set. She ranked fifth in the NCAA in digs/set after the first weekend of the season and third after the second weekend. The freshman had 20+ digs in four straight matches Aug. 27-Sept. 3. Her 32 digs Sept. 3 against Auburn tied for fourth-most in single-match program history during the rally scoring era.
Jensen Cunningham ranks third in the WCC with a .336 hitting percentage. Hailey Lindberg's 64 total blocks are tops on the team and the Broncos are outblocking opponents 145-118 on the year. They have won the block battle in 11 of 17 matches.
The Broncos have played their last 11 matches without Mead, a 2015 AVCA All-Pacific North Region and First Team All-WCC selection. She suffered an ankle injury in practice prior to the Cal Classic Sept. 9-10, which the Broncos won by defeating Grand Canyon, West Virginia and Cal. Mead averaged 11.3 assists/set (249 total) and 2.55 digs/set (56 total) alongside three double-doubles in six matches. The Broncos hit .259 and went 6-0 with Mead in the lineup; they have hit .207 and gone 4-7 without Mead.
SCU SEASON NOTES
- Santa Clara began the year with its best start in program history at 9-0, which marks just the fourth time in the 54-year program history that the Broncos 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 clinched their best start to a season with a four-set win over West Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Cal Classic.
- Santa Clara's nine straight regular season match wins in 2016 (10 straight dating back to the 2015 regular season finale against Pacific) marked the longest streak since the team won 15 matches in a row in 2005.
- 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 played its first 14 contests away from the Leavey Center, which matches the longest stretch to start a season in program history. The Broncos had six true road matches and eight neutral site contests leading up to last Tuesday's home opener, and posted a 9-5 record in that stretch. They had 14 straight contests away from home to start the 2012 campaign, and went 10-4 to open the season.
- The Broncos earned three Tournament MVP awards and 10 All-Tournament team selections in the first four weeks of the season:
The Dons enter Friday's match at 4-14 and 0-5 in WCC play. They have been swept in six straight matches and lost 19 consecutive sets. San Francisco's last win was a 3-1 victory over Brown on Sept. 10. The Dons began the year at 3-1, including two sweep victories.
Tyna Adamcikova leads the WCC with 26 aces and 0.42 aces/set. She also tops the Dons in kills/set and total kills. As a team, USF ranks 35th in the nation with 1.56 aces/set.
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