Santa Clara Defeats San Diego
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In a heavyweight battle between two West Coast Conference powers, No. 14 Santa Clara took out No. 15 San Diego 3-1 in a highly anticipated match this afternoon at the Leavey Center. The outside hitting trio Cassie Perret, Kim McGiven, and Brittany Lowe led the way for the Broncos on offense, as they combined for 41 kills on the afternoon. Defensively, the team had a season high 20 blocks, with middle blocker Anna Cmaylo tallying a career high 12 blocks, while McGiven added six total blocks in the 27-30, 30-8, 30-15, and 31-29 win. The Broncos improve to 16-1 overall and 5-0 in conference, while the Toreros fall to 14-3 in 2005 and 3-2 in the WCC. The contest between two of the top conference teams was marred, however, by an early injury to Torero outside hitter Kristen Carlson. The redshirt junior was the WCC leader in both kills (5.45) and points (5.87) per game and her absence clearly affected San Diego's play.
"Whenever you see an athlete go down with an injury, it puts a damper on the night," said head coach Jon Wallace. "We've had our share of injuries and it's really sad, especially for a college athlete. So I think the match was marred by [the injury]."
In the first game, San Diego bolted to an 8-3 lead after a series of Santa Clara hitting errors, prompting Wallace to call a timeout. Cmaylo and setter Crystal Matich responded with a resounding block on the following play, though the Torero attack would not let up and the visitors built a 17-9 edge, forcing Wallace to burn another timeout. A flurry of hitting errors by USD allowed SCU to catch up in a hurry, and it looked like momentum might shift towards the home team for good after Carlson went down with an injury late in the game. In the end, USD held on to win Game One 30-27 after a ball handling error by Perret.
Shaking off the loss of the opening frame, Santa Clara played great defense to completely take over Game Two, winning it 30-8. The eight points is the fewest allowed in a match this season and one of the lowest totals in school history since the beginning of the rally scoring era. McGiven got the ball rolling with two early blocks and middles Annalisa Muratore and Cmaylo made their presence known up at the net, touching everything that came their way. In the back row, libero Caroline Walters played superb defense and was a digging machine for Santa Clara. The game ended on an attack error by San Diego.
The Toreros came out with a more competitive attitude in the third frame, hanging early with the Broncos. After a USD kill, SCU owned a slim 10-8 advantage. Behind the strong serving of Perret, the home team went on a 6-0 run to essentially seal the game. Santa Clara would continue to apply the pressure on both ends of the court and built a lead as big as 14 points down the stretch. Two late kills by McGiven gave SCU the 30-16 triumph.
Game Four started off very much like Game Three, with both squads matching each other point for point. Midway through the frame, the Toreros took a three-point lead at 19-16 after a kill by the visiting team. The Broncos mounted a comeback behind two kills by McGiven and a service ace by Matich, tying it up at 19 all. Santa Clara forged ahead 27-24, but San Diego evened the score at 28-28 after a USD service ace. On the next play, Lowe came up big with a cross-court kill to set up match point for the home team, but a Torero kill silenced the loud home crowd. A thundering kill by Muratore once again put SCU in position to win the contest and a block by Perret and Muratore ended the match.
Santa Clara continues its quest for the 2005 WCC crown when they visit Bay Area rivals San Francisco and Saint Mary's next weekend. The contest with the Dons will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 21, while the match with the Gaels will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 22.
-- Courtesy Santa Clara