PORTLAND, Ore. — Santa Clara volleyball began its road-heavy homestretch of the 2017 season with a sweep at Portland on Thursday night. The Broncos took down the Pilots 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 at Chiles Center to begin a span that includes six of the last eight matches away from home.
The West Coast Conference victory marked Santa Clara's fourth in six contests as well as the team's sixth sweep of the season. The Broncos (11-12, 4-7 WCC) sided out at 68.3 percent.
Santa Clara leaned on a balanced attack that featured four players with seven-plus kills. Allison Kantor and Hailey Lindberg tied for the team lead with nine kills apiece; Michelle Gajdka (eight kills) and Jensen Cunningham (seven) also contributed to the SCU offense. Kirsten Mead tied for the match lead with 32 assists and Taylor Laugero topped the Broncos with 12 digs.
Portland's Hannah Troutman led all players with 20 kills on 50 swings and added a match-high 15 digs to register a double-double for the Pilots (13-9, 4-6 WCC). Portland has lost four straight matches.
The Broncos heated up toward the back end of the match's first and third sets.
They overturned a 16-14 deficit in the opening stanza by winning 11 of the last 13 points. Lindberg sparked the rally with three kills and a block assist down the stretch.
Santa Clara trailed by as many as five points in the third stanza and ended the tilt on an 8-1 run. Gajdka had three kills and Cunningham chipped in two more, including the match-clincher.
Both offenses came alive in the second set as Portland outhit Santa Clara .359 to .314, including 11 kills from Troutman. Following a 5-1 Pilot run that tied the frame at 20-all, the Broncos took consecutive points on a Morgan Robinson service error and a Tessie Powers ace.
The teams traded the next six points as Portland pulled within one of the Broncos three times. Kantor came through with Santa Clara's last two kills to put SCU up two sets going into the break.
Santa Clara remains in the Northwest for a noon matchup at Gonzaga on Saturday. The Bulldogs (13-9, 8-2 WCC) swept San Francisco on Thursday night.
• The Broncos are 53-11 all-time against the Pilots. Santa Clara and Portland split the season series for the third year in a row.
• Mead's 32 assists brings her career total to 3,958. She needs 42 more to reach the 4,000-assist milestone.
• Santa Clara hit .250 as a team against a Portland side that limited opponents to .192 on the season entering the night.
"The girls played quality, steady volleyball tonight and had a great team effort. Jensen Cunningham led the way for us and Kirsten Mead set a great match. Taylor Laugero's consistency helped us side out at a high percentage."
- Head Coach Jon Wallace
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