Aug. 26, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. - FRESNO, Calif. - Veteran composure and experience played a big role Saturday evening for the No. 6 Santa Clara volleyball team as they defeated their first ranked opponent of the young 2006 season, sweeping No. 25 Kansas State 3-0 (30-23, 32-30, 30-23) on the second day of the Fresno State Invitational. Kim McGiven and Anna Cmaylo had 20 kills apiece as the Broncos overcame a game-point disadvantage in the second frame on their way to the victory.
Sunday afternoon the Broncos will take on host Fresno State in a 1 p.m. contest. With a victory, Santa Clara would capture the Fresno State Invitational title. Fans can follow tomorrow's action live on Gametracker.
"I thought Kansas State served really tough and got us out of our rhythm a bit today," said head coach Jon Wallace. "We took a little bit of time to react to that, but then we did and smoothed things out and were able to get the win."
Cmaylo's 20 kills matched her career-high as she also hit an eye-popping .643 for the match. As a team, the Broncos hit well for the second day in a row, notching a collective percentage of .318 behind the superb setting of Crystal Matich, who recorded 48 assists Saturday.
"I felt really confident in Crystal's setting," Cmaylo said afterwards. "When the passes are good and Crystal is money on her sets, I feel like I can hit anywhere I want."
"Anna was close to automatic tonight, she took big swings the entire match and they were undiggable," Wallace said of his All-America middle blocker. "She had a dominant performance tonight."
The six returning starters also provided a calm mentality in adverse situations throughout the match as well. Santa Clara fell behind 4-8 early in game one, yet following a timeout, SCU got a pair of kills by Brittany Lowe, who finished the match with eight to go along with 12 digs, and one from Muratore in addition to benefiting from Wildcat errors to even things out at 14-apiece.
A combined block by Cmaylo and Matich on the next Kansas State attempt gave the Broncos a 15-14 advantage, one that they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Three straight kills from McGiven late in the game gave SCU a 25-20 lead as the team outscored the Wildcats 8-3 to close out game one.
The second game looked to be going Kansas State's way as they jumped out to a quick 13-7 lead. But the Broncos, behind their cagey veterans, battled back to once again tie things at 14-14, sparked by five kills from McGiven.
From there the teams were never separated by more than two points on the scoreboard, yet astonishingly enough, Santa Clara never held the lead at any point until just before the final four points. Down 23-25, SCU scored twice off of Wildcat errors to knot things up, but the Wildcats kept regaining the advantage up until their first game point at 29-28. Cmaylo's kill on the ensuing point staved off that threat and she and Matich then joined up to block another Wildcat attack to give Santa Clara its first lead of the game since the game's first point. Following a Bronco service error, another Cmaylo kill and a block by Muratore and Matich carried SCU to the 32-30 win heading into the break.
"I definitely think that focus and confidence came into play today, especially in the second game," Cmaylo said of Santa Clara's game two comeback. "When we got to that point, we were confident in ourselves and I really feel like our team is working so well together right now."
Added Wallace: "I believe that in that moment, our girls knew how to perform. We got a nice sideout play, and on the following serve we were able to get the tying point."
The Broncos looked to have things in hand when they jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third game, but Kansas State battled back, mostly behind the performance of Sandy Werner, who led the Wildcats with 15 kills. Kansas State grabbed a one-point lead at 8-7 then tie things up at 10-apiece, but after a Lowe kill, the Broncos stayed in control until the final volley, as a Werner attack error brought the match to a close.