Volleyball Takes Winning Streak to San Francisco Friday Night

The Broncos enter Friday's tilt with four straight wins and six victories in their last eight outings.
The Broncos enter Friday's tilt with four straight wins and six victories in their last eight outings.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball takes its four-match winning streak to the Hilltop on Friday night. The Broncos face San Francisco for a 7 p.m. first serve in War Memorial at the Sobrato Center. 

Santa Clara (16-7, 6-4 WCC) won four-set matches at Saint Mary's and Pacific last week. Julia Sangiacomo posted an 18-kill, 18-dig double-double against the Gaels and the Broncos outblocked the Tigers 22-1, including a career-high 14 blocks from Taylor Odom. The Dons (5-16, 1-9 WCC) fell in three sets against the Pacific and were swept by Saint Mary's. 


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Odom totaled 26 blocks (3.25/set) last week and leads the NCAA with 139 total blocks on the season in addition to ranking second in the country with 1.65 blocks/set. She ranks fifth in total blocks in SCU single-season history and has the second-most during the rally-scoring era. Odom needs four blocks to tie for fourth place (Jennifer Guigliano – 143 in 1991), five to tie for third place (Becky Potter – 144 in 2003) and six to tie for second place (Jamie Elson – 145 in 1996). Her block average is also second all-time (Annalisa Muratore – 131 in 2004).

Sangiacomo leads the team with 277 kills (3.34/set) and 334.0 points; the freshman ranks second in the WCC in both categories. She has double-digit kills in four straight matches and 16 of 23 tilts on the season.

Allison Kantor also has double-digit kills in each of the last four contests and 15 of 23 matches overall. She has logged 11-plus kills, eight-plus digs and three-plus blocks in three consecutive matches.

Gretchen Reinert totaled 39 digs (4.88/set) in two victories last week, including 20 digs against the Gaels. She has recorded 10-plus digs in 19 of 23 matches and hit the 20-dig mark three times.

Michelle Shaffer leads the WCC and ranks 22nd in the country with 38 service aces. She has an ace in four straight matches, including six over two contests against Gonzaga (Oct. 17) and Portland (Oct. 19).

Liliana Light, Reinert and Shaffer have played in all 23 matches and all 88 sets on the season. Odom, Kantor and Sangiacomo have also played in all 23 matches on the year.


Michelle Shaffer tied the program record of eight aces in a single match and became the first Bronco to hit that mark in 30 seasons (1989) as the team rolled through the second, third and fourth sets to defeat Northern Colorado 3-1 in the South Bay Battle on Sept. 14. The Thousand Oaks, California native is the fourth Bronco to serve up eight aces in a match and the first in the rally scoring era (2001-present). She had three aces in four points as part of a 7-0 Bronco run in the second set and five aces in six points as part of a 12-0 Bronco run in the fourth set en route to all-tournament team honors.

Shaffer logged Santa Clara's first 20-20 match since 2017 in Santa Clara's matchup against Denver on Sept. 20, posting 22 assists and 22 digs. Shaffer had a 12-kill, 24-assist, 11-dig triple-double Aug. 31 against Marshall, and is the first Bronco since 2003 and second in program history to record a triple-double and a 20-20 match in the same season (Becky Potter).

Julia Sangiacomo was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 2, 2019 following the first action of her debut season at the Indiana Invitational. Sangiacomo had 54 kills (4.15/set) on .341 hitting to go along with 25 digs, nine aces, two block solos and 66.5 points en route to all-tournament team honors. SCU was one of only two WCC teams to finish opening weekend undefeated.

Allison Kantor served up four consecutive aces in the first set of a sweep victory over Indiana on Aug. 31.

Santa Clara started 6-0 for the fifth time in program history (1979, 2002, 2005, 2016) and won all four matches to claim the Indiana Invitational crown on opening weekend (Aug. 30-31). The Broncos also posted their best start through 13 matches since 2014 (10-3, five seasons). The team had a perfect 6-0 record in neutral-site tournament matches and SCU was the only WCC program to win 10 matches in nonconference play.


Erin Lindsey is in her first season as head coach of Santa Clara in 2019. Lindsey joins the Broncos after winning a national championship as an assistant coach at Stanford in 2018. She is the 10th head coach for a program that dates back to 1963 and enters her second stint as a head coach after leading Dartmouth from 2011 to 2015. Her overall record as a head coach is 70-76 (16-7, 6-4 WCC at SCU) and she is the first head coach in Santa Clara history to start 6-0 in her debut season.


• The Broncos return 13 players from 2018, 12 of whom saw the court last season; they posted a 6-24 record. 2019 returners accounted for the following percentages of last year's team stats:
1,220/1,315 kills (93 percent)
839/1,224 assists (69)
87/109 aces (80)
1,039/1,615 digs (64)
191.5/214.5 blocks (89)

• Senior Alexa Dreyer and sophomore Michelle Shaffer played in all 30 matches and all 108 sets a year ago. Shaffer, a 2018 West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team selection, led the team with 297 kills (2.75/set) and ranked second with 294 digs; she had the second-most digs among WCC freshmen. Dreyer led the team in hitting percentage (.273), total blocks (93) and block assists (87).

• Sophomore Liliana Light took the court in 27 of 30 matches, primarily as a setter, and led the team with 687 assists (6.87/set). She finished third on the Broncos in digs (187) and posted six double-doubles.

• Senior Michelle Gajdka and junior Allison Kantor each appeared in 25 matches as outside hitters. Gajdka had 10-plus kills in four straight matches from Aug. 25-31. Kantor started 20 of the last 21 matches after appearing in four of the first nine matches, all off the bench.

Brittany Gillingham (24 matches), Gretchen Reinert (23), Kamrin Caoili (22), Taylor Odom (20), Anna McCreadie (17), Alex Anthony (14) and Kathryn Decker (14) round out the returners that took the court. Natalia Rentsch did not play last season.

• Santa Clara welcomes five newcomers: freshmen Claire Doud, Haley Flanagan, Katie Lawton, Kamaile Manol and Julia Sangiacomo.

• By Class: Seniors (4), juniors (3), sophomores (6), freshmen (5).

• By State: California (11), Washington (3), Oregon (2), Colorado (1), Hawai'i (1).

• The Broncos were picked to finish 9th of 10 teams in the 2019 West Coast Conference preseason poll. BYU was the unanimous pick to win the conference title.


• 2019: 5-16 (1-9 WCC, 4-4 Home) | 2018: 19-10 (11-7 WCC), NCAA Tournament
• Picked to finish 10th of 10 in 2019 WCC preseason poll
• All-time series: Santa Clara leads 68-15 (first meeting 1975)
• 2019: 10/4 SCU won 3-1 @ SCU
• 2018: 9/20 USF won 3-0 @ USF | 11/16 USF won 3-0 @ SCU
• Santa Clara won seven straight in the series from 2014-17

The Dons picked up their first conference victory of the 2019 season in their eighth WCC match against Gonzaga on Oct. 19 before dropping two matches last week. As a team, they rank first in the conference with 15.1 digs/set. Anna Dalla Vecchia is third in the WCC with 330 digs and 4.13 digs/set. Kathya Garcia totaled 44 kills in two matches against Gonzaga and Pacific.

Sangiacomo had 13 kills while Kantor and Odom added 12 in the first meeting between the teams this season at Leavey Center. The Dons won the first set before the Broncos claimed the next three in a 22-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-8 victory.

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