Volleyball Rallies for Five-Set Victory over Pepperdine

Kirsten Mead had her fourth-career 20-20 match in the Bronco victory on Saturday afternoon.
Kirsten Mead had her fourth-career 20-20 match in the Bronco victory on Saturday afternoon.

MALIBU, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball battled to a fifth set for the fourth time in five matches on Saturday afternoon against Pepperdine. Trailing 11-10 in the final frame, SCU closed the tilt on a 5-0 run with three kills from Chloe Loreen — including the last two of the match — and two more from Jensen Cunningham.

The Broncos (9-11, 2-6 WCC) took down the Waves (12-9, 4-4) 18-25, 25-18, 26-28, 26-24, 15-11 in Firestone Fieldhouse. The back-and-forth match produced at least five ties and three lead changes in all five sets; there were 43 ties and 21 lead changes in all.

Kirsten Mead notched her fourth-career 20-20 line by matching a season-best effort with 61 assists and adding 21 digs. The senior setter was one of four Broncos to post a double-double alongside Loreen (career-high 18 kills, 16 digs), Cunningham (17 kills, 10 blocks) and Michelle Gajdka (17 kills, 16 digs).

Taylor Laugero led all players and tied her career-best day with 32 digs. Hailey Lindberg chipped in 14 kills.

Pepperdine's Heidi Dyer filled up the stat sheet with a 12-kill, 21-assist, 20-dig triple-double. Hannah Frohling led all players with 19 kills while Jasmine Gross added 17. Blossom Sato led the team with 31 assists and made it a double-double afternoon with 18 digs for the Waves, who entered the day on a four-match home winning streak.

Loreen had five kills in the fifth stanza while Cunningham added four more for Santa Clara. The Broncos held a 10-8 edge before Pepperdine called timeout and answered with a 3-0 run, sparked by a kill from Gross. SCU's five straight points to close the match marked its second-longest unanswered spree of the day.

After dropping the first and third sets, the Broncos bounced back to tie the match up twice.

Gajdka put Santa Clara in command of the second frame by tallying four kills during a 6-0 run to give the team a 13-8 lead. Pepperdine cut the lead to as little as three and Santa Clara finished the set strong by winning five of the last seven points.

Both sides held four-point leads in the fourth set; the Waves used a 6-0 run to take a 10-6 lead before the Broncos flipped the momentum and went ahead 14-10. Pepperdine's late 5-0 run — during which Dyer had two kills, an assist and a block — put the hosts on top 23-21. Loreen came through with two kills and combined with Taylor Odom for the set-clinching block as the Broncos won five of the last six points.

The Waves broke a 13-all deadlock in the first set by taking five of the next six points and rolled that stretch to 12 of the last 17. Pepperdine trailed 23-20 in the third set and claimed four straight points to get on set point at 24-23. Santa Clara fought off three of those set points before Dyer capped the stanza with an ace. 

The Broncos and Waves play for the second time this season on Thursday, Nov. 9 in Leavey Center.


• Santa Clara is now 32-40 all time against Pepperdine. The Broncos have won four of the last five matches in the series.

• Santa Clara handed Pepperdine its first home loss in West Coast Conference play this season — the Waves entered the match at 3-0 in conference action — and just its third loss in 10 contests in Malibu.

• Mead eclipsed the 50-kill mark for the fourth time in five matches, which marks the second-best streak of her career. She had 50-plus kills five times in six matches as a freshman in 2014 (Oct. 10-Nov. 6).

• Cunningham produced 10 blocks in each of the last two matches. Her only other double-digit block effort as a Bronco was when she registered 16 block assists and 17 total blocks on Nov. 21, 2015 at San Diego. Those numbers both still stand as SCU single-match records.


Santa Clara returns to Leavey Center to face Pacific on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. The Tigers (8-11, 3-5 WCC) defeated Saint Mary's 3-1 on the road in four sets Saturday.


"This team's character shined today. I think it was a great rebound after Thursday night.  Jensen Cunningham and Chloe Loreen had great efforts and put up some big numbers in this victory."

- Head coach Jon Wallace


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