Aug. 23, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a solid 20-8 performance last season, including their eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, the No. 24 Santa Clara Broncos begin the 2007 campaign with clear goals of bringing home the program's fifth West Coast Conference title and an 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos open the season Friday on the road at the Boise State Invitational at Bronco Gym in Boise, Idaho.
"This year is the first time we have to deal with six of our nine returning players playing in new positions on the court," said head coach Jon Wallace. "But we like what we see on the court. We have strong leadership in Crystal Matich and Caroline Walters, along with Lindsy Evans and freshman Krista Kelley, who are going to really help get the team competitiveness flowing."
Santa Clara opens the tournament against Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Aug. 24 at 3 p.m., and then faces UT-San Antonio on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 9:30 a.m. The squad closes its first tournament of the season in a Broncos showdown against Boise State at 6 p.m.
"In the first weekend of any season, teams are just trying to get comfortable on the court," said Wallace. "We expect to be tested this weekend. It is not going to be easy, but we have a strong base that knows what it takes to win."
Fullerton enters the season after a 17-12 overall record in 2006, going 5-8 in Big West action. Chosen to finish sixth in their conference this season, the Titans return eight letterwinners and welcome five newcomers. In 2006, the Titans compiled one of the best seasons in program history, posting new volleyball records match win-streak, total conference wins and recent alum Vanessa Vella set a new single match dig record.
Senior setter Julie Geissert returns for her final season with the Titans. In 2006, she dished out 11.29 assists per game, while posting 2.26 digs and 0.69 blocks per game. Also returning to Fullerton's lineup is junior Brittany Moore. Last season, the middle blocker tallied 320 kills, posting a .300 hitting percentage, and led the team in total blocks with 120.
The Titans lead the series against the Broncos, 9-7. The two teams last met on Aug. 31, 1996 at the Anteater Invitational in Irvine, Calif., when Fullerton topped Santa Clara, 3-0.
Scouting San Antonio
In 2006, Roadrunners' head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff returns only three letterwinners and welcomes nine newcomers to this year's squad. Last season, UTSA compiled a 19-13 overall record and an 11-5 Southland Conference West mark. The Roadrunners advanced to the quarterfinals of the Southland Conference Tournament, falling 3-2 to Texas State.
Juniors Audrey Hiser, Rebecca Hrapmann and Victoria Prior return to the lineup for UTSA. Defensive specialist Hiser will be looked at to lead the back row. In 2006, she recorded 306 digs (2.47 per game) and 14 service aces. Meanwhile, Hrapmann will move into the starting setter position. Last season, she averaged 3.20 assists and 1.31 digs per game. Rounding out the returning players is middle hitter Prior. A preseason first-team All-SLC selection, she tallied 329 kills and 76 total blocks.
The Broncos lead the series against the Roadrunners, 1-0. The teams last met on Sept. 26, 1992 in San Antonio, Texas. Santa Clara defeated UTSA, 3-0.
Scouting Boise State
The Boise State Broncos enter the new year off a 13-17 overall mark in 2006, going 6-10 in WAC action. The Broncos earned a bid to the WAC Tournament, but fell 3-1 to then-No. 21 New Mexico State. The squad, under the direction of third year head coach Robin Davis, returns 12 letterwinners and welcomes two newcomers to the lineup.
Leading the 2007 Broncos squad are captains Jamie Claussen and Jeanene Rose. Claussen, an outside hitter, tallied 2.23 kills per game, 2.91 digs per game and recorded 25 service aces, while defensive specialist Rose posted 1.71 digs per game.
Santa Clara leads the series against Boise State, 3-1. The Broncos squads last met on Sept. 5, 1997 at the Weber State Classic in Odgen, Utah. Santa Clara defeated Boise State, 3-1.
The Broncos return five starters from a year ago, including Anna Cmaylo, Crystal Matich and Caroline Walters. Cmaylo, a two-time AVCA All-American, set a school record last season with a .405 hitting percentage. The middle blocker tallied 377 kills and posted 109 blocks.
Setter Matich returns to the Broncos lineup for her final season. In 2006, she dished out 826 assists, averaging 13.32 on the season. She also finished third on the team in service aces (21) and fourth in digs (118). Meanwhile, senior libero Walters has been a staple in the Broncos backline, helping lead one of the best defenses in the nation. In 2006, she recorded 427 digs, giving her a career total of 1,456, which is only 405 shy of surpassing the program's all-time record.
Also returning for Santa Clara are juniors Brittany Lowe, Michelle Luxton, Nichole Clark and Taylor O'Brien. Outside hitter Lowe had an impressive season recorded 273 kills, 266 digs and 37 aces, while Luxton, Clark and O'Brien aided the Broncos back line with a combined 215 digs and 46 assists. Sophomores Lauryn Dowd, Nina Sevastopoulos and Lindsy Evans finish up the returning lineup. Dowd saw action as an outside hitter in 26 matches, starting in 11. She tallied 71 kills, 64 digs and 15 aces on the season, while Sevastopoulos posted 61 kills. Evans finished her freshman campaign fourth on the team in kills (139), recording a .235 hitting percentage, and second on the team in assists with 470. An All-WCC freshman team honoree, Evans also averaged 0.78 blocks and 0.42 service aces per game.
Joining the Broncos this season are freshmen Krista Kelley and Alex Scoffone. Kelley will push for time as an outside hitter, while local product Scoffone will fight for a starting position as a middle blocker.
The Broncos return to action at the 2007 Florida Tournament. Santa Clara will face North Carolina State and Georgia Southern on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT, respectively. The squad concludes the two-day tournament against No. 7 Florida on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 12:30 p.m. PT.