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WCC Women's Volleyball Recaps 9-19

Sept. 19, 2006

Portland - 3
Portland State - 1

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Pilot volleyball team ended its nonconference season with a bang, blasting past crosstown rival Portland State 26-30, 30-20, 30-23, 30-26. Junior Nicole Thometz led all players with 24 kills and also added 14 digs, 2 blocks and a .357 attack percentage to the winning effort.

The Pilots improve to 7-6 on the year, the program's fourth winning nonconference record over the last five seasons. The Vikings fall to 7-4. Portland snapped a nine match home winning streak for Portland State.

"Portland State is a really good team, and I think they came out a bit flat tonight," head coach doug Sparks said. "I'm not sure if we got their A-game. Still, tonight was great and it was a good win for the program."

Portland State came out firing on all cylinders in game one, hitting for a .400 percentage and committing only 3 errors. The Pilots battled the whole game, trailing only 22-20 late in the game, but were unable to overcome the hot Viking hitting as Portland State went on to win 30-26.

It was a complete role reversal in game two as Portland stormed out of the gates scoring 12 out of 13 points early in the game for an insurmountable 14-4 lead. Thometz had 8 kills on the game helping the Pilots to a match-high .316 attack percentage.

"Nicole Thometz and Kara Pein were fantastic tonight," Sparks said. "Our girls are exhausted, playing their third game in four days, but they competed hard, hung together and got the win. I think tonight shows how great our team chemistry and mental toughness are."

Game three was a much tighter affair as the teams battled to establish a lead early in the game. With Portland holding a slim 22-21 lead late in the game, the Pilots proceeded to score 8 of the last 10 points to close out the 30-23 win. Freshman Maria Clemens and Thometz each had 6 kills in the game to lead the Pilot attack.

Portland State got off to a hot start in game four, establishing an early 4-1 lead. Portland then scored 7 of the next 8 points to grab an 8-5 lead, but the Vikings returned the favor, scoring four straight points to take a 9-8 advantage. With the game tied at 12-12, Portland scored 4 consecutive points to build a 16-12 lead that it would not relinquish. Portland State got as close as 23-21, but the Pilots fought the Vikings off and secured the 30-26 win with a solo block by sophomore Ashley Grayson.

For the match, Clemens had 11 kills and 17 digs for her team-leading fifth double-double, while junior setter Kara Pein had a solid all-around match with 49 assists, 7 kills (a new career high), 8 digs and 3 blocks. Senior Murphy McClenahan led the defense with 19 digs, while Grayson had 5 blocks and 8 kills at the net. Junior Kelly Whitehouse pitched in 4 kills and a career-high 13 digs and sophomore Jenn Sheedy had 8 kills and 3 blocks. The Pilots held a 10-5 advantage in blocks over the Vikings and had 9 service aces for the match.

"I was really happy for Murphy McClenahan," Sparks said. "Her last match wasn't her greatest, but she bounced back with a great match tonight."

Leading the way for the Vikings was senior Jessica Brodie, who tallied 23 kills and 21 digs on the match, both match highs for Portland State.

The Pilots now have nine days to prepare for West Coast Conference play, which will kick off on Sept. 28.

"We're going to practice light the next few days and the girls will get a well-deserved weekend off," Sparks said of the Pilots, who have played 13 matches over the past 22 days. Then it is on to Los Angeles for matches against Loyola Marymount and No. 23 Pepperdine.

Santa Clara - 3
Sacramento State - 1

Santa Clara, Calif. - Finally, the Broncos have come back to the Leavey Center! Following 11 games on the road to open the 2006 season, the No. 9 Santa Clara volleyball team opened up the home season Tuesday night with a 3-1 (30-26, 30-22, 33-31, 30-22) win over the Sacramento State Hornets behind Kim McGiven's huge offensive outing in front of 831 fans and a vocal, boisterous mass of Ruff Riders.

With the win, the Broncos (10-2) will take nine days off before returning to the court to begin the defense of their West Coast Conference crown as they make the North Bay tour, hitting Saint Mary's Thursday night, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. before ending the swing Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. against the San Francisco Dons.

McGiven led the Bronco attack with a season-high 27 kills and 15 assists for her fourth double-double of the season, as well as making four blocks against the Hornets (12-4). Anna Cmaylo put down 13 kills and paced the front with five blocks while Crystal Matich dished out 66 assists and made 11 digs, and Caroline Walters turned in 24 digs to pace the defense. Nichole Clark and Lauryn Dowd also providing solid defensive help with 12 digs apiece.

Things started off well for the Broncos Tuesday night as they jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first stanza, as Annalisa Muratore made three of her 10 kills on the night in that opening sequence. But the Hornets slowly chipped away at the SCU lead, eventually cutting it down to one at 21-20 after a 3-0 run paced by one of Atlee Hubbard's team-leading 21 kills on the night and a service ace from Rose Burke.

Things went back-and-forth for the next few points until kills by Cmaylo and McGiven gave the Broncos breathing room at 26-23, followed soon after by a pair of Sacramento State attack errors that put SCU on game point. Two points later, McGiven's kill gave the Broncos the first stanza.

Game two followed a similar fashion, with SCU jumping out to a nice lead, and Sacramento State battling back before the Broncos pulled away again to hold off the Hornets. SCU took a 9-5 lead early, before the give-and-take began as the Hornets knotted things up at 14-apiece on a Lindsay Haupt kill, but then the Broncos exploded for a 7-0 run that featured a pair of McGiven kills and three consecutive Haupt attack errors. The shell-shocked Hornets never got within less than six the rest of the way, as SCU coasted to the 30-22 win.

But the Hornets refused to go down without a fight, coming out strong in the third game. With their backs to the wall, Sacramento State jumped out to a 12-7 lead, helped by a pair of errors by the Broncos. SCU fought back though, even regaining the lead at 18-16 at one point after a Hornet error and a kill by Dowd, forcing the Hornets to burn a timeout.

But after the stoppage in play, the Hornets took seven of the next eight points to go ahead 22-19, and held that lead as things climbed closer to the 30-point mark. But down 27-25, SCU used consecutive kills by McGiven and a Matich ace to pull ahead 28-27, and had match point two points later, but a Hubbard kill gave the Hornets new life. After trading points up to the 31-31 mark, Hubbard's kill followed by a Jennifer Ferguson block staved off a Bronco sweep.

The battle continued into the fourth stanza, as the Hornets led early but then surrendered an 11-5 run to SCU which put the Broncos up 12-8. But as was the case in every game, the Hornets wouldn't make it easy for the Broncos, coming back to claim a 15-14 lead and battling all the way to the 22-21 point before Santa Clara finally broke away. A Lindsy Evans kill started off a 6-0 run that also featured a pair of aces from Dowd that gave SCU the 27-21 lead and brought the raucous Ruff Riders to their feet. After Dowd's service error made it 27-22, the Broncos ran off the final three points, capped off by McGiven's kill to end a marathon rally that brought a deafening roar of approval from the home crowd.

The Broncos will return home on Oct. 5, hosting the Pepperdine Waves in a 7 p.m. Thursday night battle before hosting the Loyola Marymount Lions at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Montana - 3
Gonzaga - 2

Missoula, Mont. - Sophomore Elaina Renius led all players with 19 kills and a .371 attack percentage but it wasn't enough as the Gonzaga University women's volleyball team dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to the University of Montana in a non-conference match at West Auxiliary Gym in Missoula, Mont. The Grizzlies combined for 69 kills during the 30-28, 30-25, 25-30, 29-31, 15-9 win.

The Bulldogs, who have lost three-straight, are now 4-10 on the year after the setback, while the host Grizzlies improved to 4-6 on the season.

Besides Renius, Gonzaga had three other players finish with five or more kills in the five-game match. Junior Becky Jones added 19 kills, freshman Emily Johnson had 14 kills and junior Briawna Mueller tallied nine kills. Jones also contributed eight digs and one block assist, while Mueller chipped in two solo blocks, four block assists, two assists and three digs. Junior setter Heather Dunn passed out 56 assists as the Bulldogs finished with 68 team kills and a .198 hitting percentage.

On the defensive side, GU was led by junior libero Alecia Douglas and Renius. Douglas finished with 11 digs and Renius had eight blocks.

Montana closed out the match with a .227 attack percentage and was led by Micaela Parker who finished with 17 kills and a .394 attack percentage. Claudio Houle also reached double-figure kills with 17, along with six digs and three total blocks. Defensively, the Grizzlies were led by Jackie White and Jessica Petersen. White collected a match-high 21 digs and Petersen had six block assists.

Gonzaga held the slight 52-50 edge in digs and Montana held a small 16-15 advantage in team blocks.

The Bulldogs now have a week between contests to prepare for West Coast Conference action. GU hits the court again on Thursday, Sept. 28 when it plays at WCC member #23 Pepperdine at 7 p.m.