Sept. 28, 2006
MORAGA, Calif. - Playing short-handed as they were without a pair of starters, the No. 9 Santa Clara volleyball team stumbled in their West Coast Conference opener Thursday night, dropping the final three games after jumping to a 2-0 lead and falling 3-2 (30-32, 23-30, 30-26, 30-27, 15-10) to the Saint Mary's Gaels at McKeon Pavilion.
Santa Clara (10-3, 0-1 WCC) will return to the court Saturday afternoon, continuing West Coast Conference play against the San Francisco Dons. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m.
"Where we gave them strength was when we gave them momentum and strength and didn't know how to finish off the game, which in turn would have finished off the match," said head coach Jon Wallace. "We allowed them to get into a pretty good rhythm and they ended up playing really well and got a lot of blocks towards the end. It really came down to our defense, we just struggled defensively tonight."
Anna Cmaylo led the Broncos with a season and career-high 29 kills at a .510 clip to go with six blocks and six digs, while Kim McGiven turned in 21 kills and nine digs. Freshman setter Lindsy Evans, playing for the injured Crystal Matich, stepped in admirably and came only three kills short of a triple-double, putting down seven kills to go with 69 assists and 11 digs. Evans also had three blocks on the night. Caroline Walters made 20 digs while Nichole Clark added 10 to pace the defensive effort.
"I thought that offensively we did fine, we sided-out ok, and Anna was excellent again, as she always is," Wallace said of the team's offensive performance. "Kim played great and I was really pleased with the way that Lindsy played in her first college match on the road, and she did a nice job setting for us."
The Gaels got 22 kills and 13 digs from Christina Kirk, as well as a career effort from Mandy Bible, who, in addition to passing out 55 assists, earned a triple-double with 13 digs and 10 blocks as well.
The first game started off well for the Broncos, as three kills from Cmaylo got them off to a quick 9-4 lead. The Gaels fought back, though, using a Bible kill and a pair of Bronco attack errors to knot things up at 11-apiece. From there the teams traded points, unable to gain a foothold on the other in a tight battle, up until Saint Mary's managed to gain a two-point lead at 28-26. A McGiven kill was followed by a kill from the Gaels' Taylor Groess to put Saint Mary's at game point.
With the crowd against them, the Broncos regrouped, as Cmaylo hammered down a kill, followed immediately by Evans sneaking a kill into a Saint Mary's hole to even things up at 29-apiece. Cmaylo put another hole in the Gael sails with a huge block of Cassandra Kolkka's attempt, and although the Gaels evened things up at 30-30 on the next volley, the Broncos responded with a kill from Lowe and Taylor O'Brien's service ace which gave them the first game at 32-30.
Saint Mary's reeled off a couple of quick points for a quick 2-0 lead in the second stanza, but two McGiven kills and one by Cmaylo gave SCU a 3-2 lead. Trailing 6-5 a few points later, the Broncos opened up, going on a 6-0 run fueled by kills from Cmaylo, Lowe, and Megan Pura. Despite Saint Mary's cutting the lead to 13-10, SCU benefited from an SMC service error, two kills from McGiven, and finally a kill from Evans to rebuild the lead to seven at 19-12, forcing the Gaels to burn a timeout.
The Broncos welcomed the Gaels back to play with a block from Cmaylo and Evans to take a 20-12 lead before Saint Mary's finally got a sideout. But by that point it was too late, as Santa Clara had momentum firmly on their side, eventually extending their lead to nine at 25-16 to put things out of reach. Another kill by McGiven put the Broncos at game point at 29-22, and two points later, another head-rattling kill from Cmaylo gave SCU the stanza at 30-23.
Game three started with a Saint Mary's point, but Santa Clara answered with a 3-0 run to take an early lead. The Broncos maintained the three-point lead up to the 9-6 mark, until a Bible kill cut the advantage to two. But Santa Clara got a kill from Pura and consecutive aces from Evans to up the lead to 12-7 and force the Gaels to ask for a stoppage in play.
The break helped Saint Mary's, as the team ran off a 7-1 run to take a 14-13 lead and force the Broncos back on their heels. After a McGiven kill evened things up, the Gaels continued the attack, taking the next three points to gain a 17-14 lead which led to the Broncos calling a timeout of their own to regroup.
Returning to play, the Broncos fought back, cutting the deficit to one at 21-20, but the Gaels took the next two points to get their lead back to three. The lead stayed there until a Bible kill made it 28-24 in favor of the Gaels, but the Broncos stayed resilient, using an attack error and an ace from McGiven to cut the deficit to two. An attack error by Lowe on the ensuing point put Saint Mary's at game point and a block from Groess and Brittany Barker gave the Gaels the third stanza.
The fourth stanza opened up in a taut fashion as the teams traded points until a McGiven kill and a block by Cmaylo and Evans gave SCU a 5-3 lead. Saint Mary's bounced back to tie things up at five-apiece, then had a quick 4-1 run that gave them the lead at 9-6, forcing a Bronco timeout.
Things were stalemated up until the 15-12 point, when the Gaels put together a small 4-2 run that extended their lead to five and resulted in the Broncos taking their final timeout of the game. Saint Mary's wasn't fazed by the stoppage, though, getting the lead up to six at 22-16 following a Bronco blocking error. Four kills in the next six points by Cmaylo helped get the Broncos to within three at 24-21, but a Barker kill halted the run and got the Gaels back up by four.
Still fighting, the Broncos got a couple of points back to make it 27-24, forcing a Saint Mary's timeout, after which they managed to cut things to two at 28-26. But an SMC kill got it to game point, and two points later, a Bronco attack error gave the Gaels the game at 30-27, forcing the deciding fifth stanza.
The final game started off with a Cmaylo and Evans block giving Santa Clara the first point, but a service error brought it back to even at 1-1. Consecutive Saint Mary's block and an SCU attack error gave the Gaels a 4-1 edge, forcing another SCU timeout.
Another block on the first point back brought the Gael lead to four, and another Bronco attack error made it a 6-1 hole until a Cmaylo kill finally stopped the bleeding. But the salve didn't last, as after surrendering two points, Saint Mary's got them back to take an 8-3 lead. More miscues by the Broncos made the hole deeper at 11-5, but they rebounded a bit to take the next two points and force a Gael timeout.
But the rally came too late, as a Gael kill put them at game point at 14-10, and one final attack error by the Broncos ended things.