SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara Volleyball hits the road for Southern California to play a pair of West Coast Conference matches this week. The Broncos face Pepperdine Thursday at 7 p.m. and Loyola Marymount Saturday at 1 p.m.
SCU (6-16, 1-8 WCC) wrapped up a four-match homestand last week that included the team's first WCC victory of the 2018 season. The Broncos defeated Pacific in four sets on Thursday and were swept by Saint Mary's on Saturday. They play five of their final eight matches away from home.
The Waves (13-7, 7-3) and the Lions (15-6, 5-5) went on the conference's toughest road trip last week. No. 1 BYU and San Diego each swept Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. The Waves are tied for third place with Saint Mary's while Pepperdine sits in fifth place. Both teams swept Santa Clara in Leavey Center in September.
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Santa Clara's win over Pacific snapped a nine-match Bronco losing streak. The Broncos produced 13 blocks, their second-highest mark in a single match this season (15 against Grand Canyon on Aug. 25). They held the Tigers to .163 hitting, the lowest attack percentage for an opponent in SCU's last seven matches.
Michelle Shaffer has double-digit kills in four straight matches and five of the last six overall; she had five double-digit kill performances in the first 16 matches of the year. In the last six matches, the freshman outside hitter is hitting .288 (58 points above her season average) and averaging 3.48 kills per set (0.6/set more than her season average). Shaffer tops the team with 24 aces and had a career-high four aces to help Santa Clara down Pacific.
Chloe Loreen had at least 12 digs in seven straight matches from Sept. 27 through last Thursday's win over the Tigers, in which she totaled 22 digs. That streak began during Santa Clara's homestand against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The sophomore libero has 20-plus digs in five matches this season.
Alexa Dreyer has paced Santa Clara with consistent performances and balanced production over the last four matches. During that stretch, the redshirt junior middle blocker is hitting .333 with at least six kills and two blocks in every match and an ace in three of four matches.
Kathryn Decker made the first two starts of her Bronco career last weekend and played in all seven sets. The redshirt freshman outside hitter posted a career-high eight kills as Santa Clara topped Pacific and followed up with six kills against the Gaels. She entered the weekend with eight kills in seven sets for the season.
• The Broncos return 12 players from the 2017 roster, 10 of whom saw the court last season.
• Michelle Gajdka and Taylor Odom played in all 30 matches and 115 of 116 sets a year ago. Gajdka led the team with 361 kills (3.14/set) and ranked third with 277 digs. Odom tied for the team lead in block assists (97) and was second with 108 total blocks (.94/set).
• Allison Kantor and Tessie Powers each took the court in 29 of 30 matches. Kantor, a 2017 WCC All-Freshman Team selection, posted seven double-doubles on the season and closed out the year with six double-digit kill efforts in her last seven matches. Powers finished second on the 2017 team with 287 digs and posted 10-plus digs 16 times.
• Brittany Gillingham (25 matches), Tatiana San Juan (23), Gretchen Reinert (19), Chloe Loreen (16), Anna McCreadie (11) and Ngozi Nwabuzoh (9) round out the returners that took the court. Laura Willems did not play last season and Kathryn Decker redshirted.
• Santa Clara welcomes six newcomers: UCLA transfer Alexa Dreyer — who joins the team with two years of eligibility remaining — as well as freshmen Alex Anthony, Kamrin Caoili, Liliana Light, Natalia Rentsch and Michelle Shaffer.
• 2017 players lost to graduation: setter and 2017 West Coast Conference assists leader Kirsten Mead (1,232 assists, 10.62/set), middle blocker Jensen Cunningham (team-best 114 total blocks), setter Erin Reineking. Mead also led the team with 33 aces.
Head Coach Jon Wallace
• Jon Wallace, the winningest coach in program history, is in his 20th season at the helm in 2018. His overall record is 367-220 (.625).
• The Broncos have reached the NCAA Tournament 13 times in Wallace's 19 seasons.
• Seniors: 1 - Tatiana San Juan
• By State: California (13), Oregon (2), Washington (2), Colorado (1)
• Santa Clara is 33-41 against Pepperdine in a series that dates back to 1982
• 2018: 9/29 PEP won 3-0 @ SCU
• 2017: 10/14 SCU won 3-2 @ PEP | 11/9 SCU won 3-1 @ SCU
• Santa Clara has won five of the last seven meetings
Pepperdine's balanced offense features well in the NCAA rankings: 1.63 aces/set (21st), 12.97 assists/set (32nd), 13.7 kills/set (42nd) to go with a .259 hitting percentage (28th). Individually, Blossom Sato is the WCC's second most efficient setter, tallying 11.07 assists/set (26th in the NCAA).
The Waves were picked to finish fourth (of 10) in the 2018 WCC preseason poll. Pepperdine went 16-15 overall and 8-10 in conference play last season to finish tied for sixth (Santa Clara) in the WCC.
• Santa Clara is 35-40 against Loyola Marymount in a series that dates back to 1979
• 2018: 9/27 LMU won 3-0 @ SCU
• 2017: 10/12 LMU won 3-2 @ LMU | 11/11 SCU won 3-2 @ SCU
• The teams have split the season series for five straight years (since 2013)
The Lions top all WCC teams in assists/set (13.96 – third in the NCAA), aces/set (1.83 – 5th), total aces (137 – 19th) and kills/set (14.71 – 6th). Tess Reid leads the WCC and ranks third in the nation with 12.19 assists/set while Emma Johnson leads the WCC and ranks fourth in the nation with a .428 hitting percentage.
LMU was picked to finish third (of 10) in the 2018 WCC preseason poll, while the Broncos were picked to finish sixth. The Lions went 16-13 overall and 9-9 in conference play last season to finish tied for fourth (Gonzaga) in the WCC.
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