SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball hits the road to face the top two teams in the West Coast Conference this week. The Broncos match up with No. 1 BYU on Thursday and San Diego on Saturday.
Santa Clara dropped a four-set match against Portland last Thursday and followed up with one of the closest matches of the season, a five-set loss against Gonzaga, on Saturday. The Broncos (6-20, 1-13 WCC) went 0-8 and won two sets in their first eight WCC matches of the year and have won nine sets over their last six matches, including a four-set victory over Pacific.
The Cougars (23-0, 13-0) are the lone unbeaten team in the country and have an inside track to win the WCC Championships on the strength of two wins over the second-place Toreros (13-10, 10-3). BYU defeated San Diego in four sets last Friday in Provo.
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Kamrin Caoili returned after a four-match absence to lead the Broncos in kills against Portland (14 on .333 hitting) and Gonzaga (career-high 16 on .351 hitting) last week. 30 kills over two matches marks her best output in consecutive contests since netting 28 kills between matches against Kent State and Butler (Sept. 14-15).
Michelle Shaffer collected a pair of double-doubles in last week's action. She had 10 kills and 13 digs against the Pilots, then produced 15 kills and 18 digs against the Bulldogs. Shaffer has produced 10 or more kills seven times in the last eight matches and has four double-doubles in the last six matches.
Alexa Dreyer tallied a career-best 15 kills against the Bulldogs and matched career-high marks with six blocks and five digs. Her last match with 10-plus kills was 20 contests ago (11 kills in a sweep of Ohio on Aug. 31). She totaled 11 blocks in nine sets last week and has five or more blocks four times in the last six matches.
Chloe Loreen led all players with a career-high 27 digs on Saturday; it was her sixth match of the season with 20-plus digs. Loreen, Shaffer and Dreyer have played in all 26 matches and all 94 sets on the season thus far.
• The Broncos return 11 players from the 2017 roster, nine 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), and Anna McCreadie (11) 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 367-224 (.621).
• The Broncos have reached the NCAA Tournament 13 times in Wallace's 19 seasons.
• Seniors: 1 - Tatiana San Juan
• By State: California (12), Oregon (2), Washington (2), Colorado (1)
• Santa Clara is 4-12 against BYU in a series that dates back to 1992
• 2018: 10/13 BYU won 3-0 @ SCU
• 2017: 9/21 BYU won 3-0 @ SCU | 11/18 BYU won 3-0 @ BYU
• BYU has won six straight in the series
BYU has won all but six sets on the year and swept every conference match except those against San Diego (both four-setters). The Cougars lead the country with a .328 hitting percentage and have the fourth-best opponent hitting percentage at .140. Three-time WCC Player of the Week Roni Jones-Perry ranks 12th in the NCAA with 4.53 kills/set.
The Cougars were picked to win the conference in the 2018 WCC preseason poll, while Santa Clara was picked to finish sixth. BYU went 30-3 overall and 17-1 in conference play last season to share the regular season championship with San Diego. The team made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
• Santa Clara is 34-37 against San Diego in a series that dates back to 1979
• 2018: 10/11 USD won 3-0 @ SCU
• 2017: 9/23 USD won 3-0 @ SCU | 11/16 USD won 3-0 @ USD
• San Diego has won seven straight in the series, including five straight sweeps
Prior to the loss at BYU, San Diego won six straight matches, including four sweeps. Addie Picha ranks second in the NCAA and leads the WCC with a .437 hitting percentage. She also tops the WCC in total blocks (121) and blocks/set (1.46).
The Toreros were picked to finish second (of 10 teams) in the 2018 WCC preseason poll. San Diego went 25-5 overall and 17-1 in conference play last season to share the regular season championship with BYU. The team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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