MOSCOW, Idaho — Santa Clara volleyball began Saturday's action at the Idaho Volleyball Classic with a sweep of New Mexico in the morning and ended it with a five-set defeat against Grand Canyon in the afternoon. The Broncos took down the Lobos 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 and fell to the Antelopes 20-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-21, 15-12 at Memorial Gym.
SCU finishes the weekend at 1-2; the team dropped its season-opening match in three sets to tournament host Idaho on Friday night. Junior Alexa Dreyer earned all-tournament team honors by compiling 27 kills and an SCU-best six aces in her debut weekend with the team.
Freshman Michelle Shaffer led the Broncos with 36 kills through three matches and junior Ngozi Nwabuzoh hit a Bronco-best .365 with 26 kills. Freshman Liliana Light racked up 114 assists (10.36/set), sophomore Chloe Loreen had 43 digs and redshirt junior Taylor Odom tallied 19 block assists.
MATCH 1: Broncos Ride Balanced Offense to Sweep of Lobos
Santa Clara spread the ball around among its newcomers and veteran players in the morning victory. Shaffer led the team with 12 kills, junior Michelle Gajdka added 11 and Nwabuzoh notched career-high marks with 10 kills on .444 hitting. Dreyer added seven kills and Light posted six kills and 34 assists while setting the Broncos to a .286 hitting percentage.
SCU posted one of its best stretches of the tournament to take control early in the second set. The team broke a 4-all tie with a 7-1 run, spurred by three kills and an ace from Dreyer, who had five kills on eight attempts in the frame. The Broncos maintained at least a three-point edge on the way to a 2-0 match lead.
New Mexico (0-2) led for most of the third set before Santa Clara used a 5-0 run to take a 20-18 advantage; Dreyer started the spree with a kill and served up an ace three points later. Gajdka closed out the match with one of her five third-set kills.
The teams were tied 13 times in the first set — as late as 17-all — and neither team led by more than two points until Shaffer came through on a setup by sophomore Brittany Gillingham to put the Broncos ahead 21-18. Nwabuzoh clinched the set with one of her five kills for the stanza and was one of four Broncos to produce at least three kills in the first frame.
Loreen led all players with 11 digs for the match and Odom had six block assists. New Mexico's Lauren Twitty and Tai Bierria had 12 kills each.
MATCH 2: Antelopes Win Last Two Sets to Outlast Broncos
Trailing 2-1 heading into the fourth set, Grand Canyon (2-1) won seven straight points and eight of nine overall to take an early 10-4 lead. Kayla Matthews had four of her six kills for the set in that stretch; she led the Antelopes with 16 kills on .324 hitting for the night. Santa Clara responded by getting within a point eight times and tying the set twice before Grand Canyon took the final three points to force a deciding fifth set.
The Antelopes raced out to another early lead in the final frame, going in front 11-4 en route to the match win. Kaira Moss had four of Grand Canyon's seven kills in the set, including the final two putdowns of the contest. The team played back-to-back five-set matches and three in two days, defeating New Mexico on Friday and falling to Idaho earlier on Saturday.
Santa Clara carried its momentum from the morning sweep into the first set of the nightcap, setting the tone by winning seven of eight points for an 11-5 advantage. Four different players logged a kill in the span, including Dreyer, who also had two aces. Light set the Broncos to .357 hitting in the opening set and tallied 16 assists.
Grand Canyon took command of a close second set late by winning the final eight points to knot up the match. Moss had two kills in the stretch that featured two Antelope blocks and six Bronco attack errors.
SCU opened and closed the third set on good runs to take its second lead of the match. The Broncos won six of the first eight points and 10 of the final 13 points, spurred in the set by six kills from Dreyer; they hit .355 as a group.
Nwabuzoh posted career-high efforts with 13 kills, a .310 hitting percentage and six block assists. Odom and Loreen set new career-best marks with 12 block assists and 26 digs, respectively. Bronco newcomers Dreyer (13 kills), Light (54 assists) and Shaffer (20-kill, 11-dig double-double) each had their most productive numbers of the weekend. Gajdka had a 13-kill, 11-dig double-double.
The Broncos host Sacramento State for their home-opening match on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Hornets (1-2) defeated Utah State 3-1 on Friday before falling to Cal State Northridge 3-2 on Friday and Arizona 3-1 on Saturday as hosts of the Hornet Volleyball Invitational.
- The Broncos defeated New Mexico for the first time in program history. They are 3-1 all-time against the Lobos and 1-1 all-time against the Antelopes.
- Nwabuzoh had 32 kills in 21 sets and 15 matches during her first two seasons with the Broncos. She has already eclipsed her 2017 kill total with 26 through three matches this season.
- Shaffer had the most attacking looks for the Broncos with 98 of the team's 371 total attempts in three matches.
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