SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara volleyball posted one of its biggest wins in program history on Friday, downing No. 9 Kansas in five sets 22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12 during opening-day action of the Santa Clara/San José State Tournament.
Michelle Gajdka (21), Hailey Lindberg (17) and Jensen Cunningham (16) combined for 54 of the team's 76 kills in defeating the highest-ranked opponent in Leavey Center in school history. Santa Clara knocked off No. 10 BYU, 3-1, on Sept. 26, 2015.
The Broncos (7-4), who won their fourth straight, had a .231 attack percentage helped by Kirsten Mead who posted 61 assists, the second-highest total of her career, and a career-best 25 digs.
Kelsie Payne had a match-best 22 kills for the Jayhawks (10-2).
The Broncos opened the tournament by sweeping Idaho on Friday afternoon.
Kansas will face Idaho at 11 a.m. Saturday in Leavey Center. The Broncos play at San José State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the final match of the two-day, four-team tournament.
MATCH 1: Broncos Sweep Idaho in Home Opener
Jensen Cunningham tallied a match-best 12 kills and Michelle Gajdka added 10 and nine digs to lead Santa Clara to a 25-23, 25-16, 25-19 sweep of Idaho on Friday afternoon in the opening contest of the tournament.
Kirsten Mead set up many of those kills with a match-high 39 assists to go along with eight digs for the Broncos (6-4), who recorded a season-best .282 hitting percentage in the outing. SCU hit .432 in the second set and led 9-8 before scoring nine of the next 11 points.
"All in all it was a great team effort, it's nice to get the first home game out of the way," Santa Clara head coach Jon Wallace said. "I'm really proud of how our girls got started in game one, gave up the lead but then came back and won that, so that was good for us to go through that experience."
The first and third sets were more closely contested.
Sarah Sharp and Kaela Straw each had nine kills for the Vandals (4-5), who were unable to get their offense on track until the third set when they posted a match-best .261 hitting percentage.
Idaho twice tied the third set (the final time at 18-all) before the Broncos were able to take control. Mead and Tatiana San Juan set up Hailey Lindberg for a pair of kills to give the Broncos a 20-18 advantage.
Brittany Gillingham then came off the bench and had an ace to start a 6-0 run. Lindberg added another kill around a pair of Idaho errors in the flurry before Gajdka finished off the match with her final kill.
Cunningham registered an impressive .611 hitting percentage, including five kills in six attempts in the final set.
MATCH 2: Broncos Take Down Nationally-Ranked Kansas
Michelle Gajdka (21), Hailey Lindberg (17) and Jensen Cunningham (16) combined for 54 of the Santa Clara's 76 kills in a thrilling five-set 22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12 victory over ninth-ranked Kansas.
The Broncos, who posted a .231 attack percentage, defeated the highest-ranked opponent on their home floor in the history of the program. Santa Clara defeated No. 10 BYU, 3-1, on Sept. 26, 2015.
The first three sets were tied 38 times with 16 lead changes and the final frame played out the same way.
Kansas erased an early 5-1 deficit in the fifth set to claim an 8-6 edge before the Broncos stormed back.
Back-to-back kills from Gajdka pushed the Broncos into a 9-8 lead before Mead set up Cunningham twice down the stretch, the last one increasing the edge to 13-10.
But the Jayhawks took advantage of a pair of attack errors to pull within one.
After a Santa Clara timeout, Kansas was forced into an attack error and freshman Chloe Loreen, who equaled a career best with 18 digs, finished off the match with her 11th kill of the evening.
Ahead two sets to one, the Broncos led midway through the fourth, but the Jayhawks pulled ahead 21-16.
Santa Clara scored five straight times to tie the set, but Kansas got kills from Taylor Alexander and Ashley Smith to pull away for a 25-23 win.
Nine attack errors and five service errors by Santa Clara helped the Jayhawks take the opening set, 27-25.
Fewer errors and a combined 10 kills from the Gajdka, Cunningham and Lindberg trio helped the Broncos prevail, 27-25 in the second set.
Ainise Havili had a double-double for Kansas with 50 assists and 16 digs.
• In Friday's opener, the Broncos posted their third-straight sweep and fourth in the previous five matches.
• In the Idaho match, Gajdka (10) hit double figures in kills for the sixth time this season. Her 21 kills against Kansas was a career high (19 vs. American, Aug. 25).
• San Juan had a match-high 18 digs against Idaho, which was tied for her third-highest total of the season. She had 25 at American (Aug. 25) and 24 in the nightcap vs. Kansas.
"It's been a while since we've beaten a ranked here at home. We'll take every win we can get whether or not it is awesome to play great teams. I'll tell you the student body and the student-athletes came out tonight. Our athletic director has done a great job making this place alive again and it's a great place to be a part of."
- Head coach Jon Wallace after the Kansas match
"I thought that the coaches did a good job dialing up some plays that the girls felt comfortable with so we could execute what we do every day. They felt confident in that moment, even though we gave up the lead in the second set. All in all that's what we can do and expect of them and then they executed what we wanted, so good job to all the girls for hanging in there."
- Head coach Jon Wallace after the Idaho match
The Broncos play at San José State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the finale of the two-day tournament.
TICKETS AND PARKING
Tickets: Click here to purchase tickets for the matches at Santa Clara. Entry on Saturday is $7 for the Kansas vs. Idaho match. Tickets purchased for events at SCU do not count for entry at SJSU. Admission at SJSU is free. Visit the San José State volleyball page for game information at that site.
Season and single-game tickets are available. Tickets are available by clicking the link above or contacting the ticket office weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at (408) 554-4660 or [email protected]. Group discounts are also available through our ticket office's sales and service consultants. Doors to the Leavey Center, as well as its ticket office, are open one hour prior to the start of each match.
Parking: Parking is free in Santa Clara's Leavey Center parking lot for each of Friday's matches. THE LEAVEY CENTER PARKING LOT WILL BE COMPLETELY OFFLINE ON SATURDAY due to SCU's move-in weekend. Plan on more time for arrival on both Friday and Saturday due to SCU's move-in weekend. Parking on Saturday is free in the Guadalupe Lot, across the street from the Leavey Center. Any other parking facility on campus will be subject to normal daily rates or restrictions, including the main structure, located adjacent to Stevens Stadium on Palm Drive. Click here for a campus map and parking restrictions. See below map for Saturday parking:
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