Volleyball Splits Saturday Matches, Shares D.C. Volleyball Challenge Title

Michelle Gajdka led the Broncos in kills during each of the team's two matches on Saturday.
Michelle Gajdka led the Broncos in kills during each of the team's two matches on Saturday.

WASHINGTON — On the second day of the 2017 season, Santa Clara volleyball picked up a match victory and a share of the D.C. Volleyball Challenge crown. The Broncos defeated Georgetown 25-23, 14-25, 20-25, 25-7, 15-12 in the first bout and fell to Howard 25-21, 25-17, 19-25, 28-26 in the nightcap at Howard's Burr Gymnasium.

Santa Clara and Georgetown each went 2-1 to earn a share of the tournament title. The Broncos came from behind to defeat American on Friday while the Hoyas defeated Howard on Friday and American on Saturday.

MATCH 1: Broncos Bounce Back to Upend Hoyas

Michelle Gajdka topped the Broncos (2-0) with 15 kills, while Hailey Lindberg had 10 kills on an efficient .450 hitting percentage. Kirsten Mead tallied a 37-assist, 10-dig double-double and Tatiana San Juan led Santa Clara with 13 digs.

Trailing two sets to one, the Broncos dominated the fourth set 25-7 on a .556 hitting percentage and kept Georgetown from winning consecutive points in the frame. Santa Clara jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the match's decisive set en route to victory. Lindberg and Jensen Cunningham each had three kills to pace the Broncos in the fifth stanza.

Symone Speech paced the Hoyas (1-1) offensively with a .568 hitting percentage and 24 kills. Georgetown hit .481 in the second set and .565 in the third set to pull in front 2-1.

MATCH 2: Host Bison's Offense too Much for Broncos

Khaila Donaldson hit .333 and tallied 19 kills to lead the Bison (1-2), a 2016 NCAA Tournament participant. Jurnee Tipton had 12 kills on .458 hitting. Tamia Dockery set the co-tournament host to a .323 hitting percentage and finished with 35 assists. 

Gajdka (team-leading 14 kills) and Mead (team-highs with 40 assists, 10 digs) turned in another pair of solid performances in Santa Clara's final match of the tournament. Middle blockers Lindberg (13 kills) and Cunningham (12) helped pace the Broncos (2-1) at the net.

Donaldson used one of her seven fourth-set kills to clinch the contest for the Bison on their fourth attempt at match point. Howard hit .400 in the final set. The Bison held the Broncos to a .069 hitting percentage to capture the first set and hit .519 in the second set en route to a 2-0 advantage.

The Broncos won their only stanza of the match behind after the break on the strength of six kills from Lindberg and a .324 hitting percentage.


Michelle Gajdka led the Broncos in digs for all three matches, totaling 48 on the weekend. She posted 16 kills in 15 matches last season.
Kirsten Mead had double-doubles in all three tournament matches. She has 25 for her career.
Taylor Laugero, who recorded 471 digs last season, did not play in the D.C. Volleyball Challenge due to injury.

Next Up

The Broncos return to the west coast for the Washington Invitational next Friday and Saturday. They open play with a single match against the host and third-ranked Huskies Friday night, followed by a Saturday doubleheader against Cal Poly and Seattle.

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Go Broncos!