SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball heads out on a West Coast Conference road trip this week. The Broncos face Gonzaga on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Portland on Saturday at noon.
Santa Clara (5-11, 0-4 WCC) has lost five straight matches and 15 straight sets. The Broncos have faced San Francisco, Pacific, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine in West Coast Conference action this season, including the Lions and Waves at home last week.
Gonzaga (4-11, 1-3) took down Loyola Marymount in its first conference match of the season and has since fallen to Pepperdine in four sets, BYU in three sets and San Diego in three sets. Portland (12-4, 0-4) went undefeated in nonconference action and has lost all four WCC tilts against the same slate the Bulldogs have faced.
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Three of Santa Clara's top four kill-getters are newcomers to the team this season. Freshman Michelle Shaffer tops the Broncos with 146 kills in 55 sets. She has five matches with 12-plus kills and nine matches with 11 or more digs. Shaffer has registered at least four kills and at least five digs in all 16 matches to go along with a Bronco-leading 18 aces and six multi-ace matches.
Junior and UCLA transfer Alexa Dreyer ranks second on the Broncos with 109 kills and has a team-best 45 total blocks. She has a block in 15 of 16 matches this season and has 14 blocks over her last nine sets.
Freshman Kamrin Caoili is the other newcomer in that trio, and she is coming off a 10-kill performance in Saturday's matchup against the Waves. She posted 10 kills in her first 12 sets as a Bronco and has 68 kills over her last 26 sets. Caoili ranks fourth on the team with 80 kills for the season.
Redshirt sophomore Allison Kantor has logged double-digit kills or digs in five of Santa Clara's last six matches. She posted 16 digs against the Lions and 11 digs against the Waves to make it 27 in six sets (4.5/set) for the week.
Sophomore Chloe Loreen has a 12-dig effort against the Lions and a 17-dig match against the Waves for 29 digs over six sets (4.83/set). Shaffer, Dreyer and Loreen have played in all 16 matches and all 55 sets on the year.
• The Broncos return 12 players from the 2017 roster, 10 of whom saw the court last season.
• Michelle Gajdka and Taylor Odom played in all 30 matches and 115 of 116 sets a year ago. Gajdka led the team with 361 kills (3.14/set) and ranked third with 277 digs. Odom tied for the team lead in block assists (97) and was second with 108 total blocks (.94/set).
• Allison Kantor and Tessie Powers each took the court in 29 of 30 matches. Kantor, a 2017 WCC All-Freshman Team selection, posted seven double-doubles on the season and closed out the year with six double-digit kill efforts in her last seven matches. Powers finished second on the 2017 team with 287 digs and posted 10-plus digs 16 times.
• Brittany Gillingham (25 matches), Tatiana San Juan (23), Gretchen Reinert (19), Chloe Loreen (16), Anna McCreadie (11) and Ngozi Nwabuzoh (9) round out the returners that took the court. Laura Willems did not play last season and Kathryn Decker redshirted.
• Santa Clara welcomes six newcomers: UCLA transfer Alexa Dreyer — who joins the team with two years of eligibility remaining — as well as freshmen Alex Anthony, Kamrin Caoili, Liliana Light, Natalia Rentsch and Michelle Shaffer.
• 2017 players lost to graduation: setter and 2017 West Coast Conference assists leader Kirsten Mead (1,232 assists, 10.62/set), middle blocker Jensen Cunningham (team-best 114 total blocks), setter Erin Reineking. Mead also led the team with 33 aces.
Head Coach Jon Wallace
• Jon Wallace, the winningest coach in program history, is in his 20th season at the helm in 2018. His overall record is 366-217 (.628).
• The Broncos have reached the NCAA Tournament 13 times in Wallace's 19 seasons.
• Seniors: 1 - Tatiana San Juan
• By State: California (13), Oregon (2), Washington (2), Colorado (1)
• Santa Clara is 50-12 against Gonzaga in a series that dates back to 1987
• 9/28/17: GU won 3-2 @ GU | 10/28/17: SCU won 3-2 @ SCU
• The home team has won four straight in the series.
Gonzaga's offense runs through Sarah Penner, who has 453 of the team's 2,000 attack attempts and 158 of their 649 kills. Chapin Gray ranks second in those categories with 96 kills on 291 attempts. Tiyana Hallums enters the week as the WCC leader with 262 digs and 4.85 digs/set.
The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth (of 10) in the 2018 WCC preseason poll, while Santa Clara was picked to finish sixth. Gonzaga went 14-16 overall and 9-9 in conference play last season to finish tied for fourth (Loyola Marymount) in the WCC.
• Santa Clara is 54-11 against Portland in a series that dates back to 1979
• 10/30/17: POR won 3-2 @ SCU | 10/26/17: SCU won 3-0 @ POR
• The road team has won four straight in the series.
Portland ranks 22nd in the NCAA with a .264 hitting percentage. Shayla Hoeft and Katie Barker are each hitting .347 on the year. The Pilots have had the upper hand in the service game, going +54 on points decided on service aces and errors (aces: 84-57, errors: 115-142).
The Pilots were picked to finish eighth (of 10) in the 2018 WCC preseason poll. Portland went 15-15 overall and 6-12 in conference play last season to finish eighth in the WCC.
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