Aug. 31, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Coming off of a solid opening weekend, the No. 6 Santa Clara University volleyball team hits the road once again this weekend, heading to South Bend, Ind. for a two-game swing at the Joyce Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. There, the undefeated Broncos will face another pair of unbeatens in the Valparaiso Crusaders Friday followed by a Sunday afternoon match with the host Fighting Irish.
Santa Clara (3-0), coming off of a weekend which saw the team capture the Fresno State Invitational title with three consecutive 3-0 victories over the likes of Pacific, No. 25 Kansas State, and host Fresno State, will open this weekend's action against Valparaiso (3-0) in a 10 a.m. PT match in South Bend. Sunday's match against host Notre Dame (1-0) is set for a 12 p.m. start.
"We don't know too much about Valparaiso right now, but once we get the tape and break that down we'll be prepared for Friday," said head coach Jon Wallace. "At this point in the season, we're really focusing on ourselves and trying to get better on our side of the net. We're going to focus on what we need to do and how we need to play and hopefully we'll get a win by doing that."
"Going to Notre Dame will be a great experience for the team, playing on their home court should be a very tough challenge for us," Wallace continued. "But our girls are excited to go back there, and it will be fun to also get to watch our women's soccer team play on Friday night as well."
The sixth-ranked Broncos plowed through their competition last weekend in Fresno, as junior setter Crystal Matich was named tournament MVP after averaging 13.67 assists and 1.11 blocks per game while guiding the team to a collective .332 hitting percentage.
Anna Cmaylo had a dominant weekend, earning All-Tournament team honors after averaging 4.67 kills and 1.11 blocks a game while hitting a combined .623 over the three matches. Monday, Cmaylo was also named WCC Player of the Week for her performance.
Senior captain and outside hitter Kim McGiven earned All-Tournament honors as well, notching 5.38 kills a game as well as 2.25 digs a game. In the middle, Annalisa Muratore and Megan Pura demonstrated staunch defense in averaging 1.60 and 1.40 blocks a game, respectively.
Valparaiso, meanwhile, has won three straight Mid-Continent Conference titles and has appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. The Crusaders captured the Chicagoland Classic title last weekend, defeating UIC, DePaul, and Loyola (Chicago). Jessie Fox was named the tournament's MVP after notching 42 kills and hitting .311 over the three matches. Sophomore middle blocker Allison Sears (35 kills, 13 blocks over weekend), sophomore libero Brittany Marks (5.25 digs per game) and freshman outside hitter Angie Porche (41 kills) were all named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts.
The No. 21 Fighting Irish will be the second ranked team that the Broncos are to face so far in the yougn 2006 season. Notre Dame got its season off on the right foot with a 3-0 win over Bowling Green at the Joyce Center on Aug. 26. Freshman Christina Kaelin (24 kills, .465) led the Irish effort and was supported by Adrianna Stasiuk's double-double of 10 kills and 10 digs. Kaelin was named the Big East Conference's Rookie of the Week for her performance. Freshman Tara Enzweiler also averaged 2.33 blocks a game in the victory, and is part of a ND freshman class that was ranked third in the country by Volleyball Magazine.
Following this weekend's action, the No. 6 Broncos will head to the Lone Star State to do battle against a pair of high-profile opponents in No. 8 Texas and No. 13 Missouri next Thursday and Friday, Sept. 7-8.