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Santa Clara athletics | September 16, 2017

Santa Clara takes down No. 9 Kansas in five sets

  No. 9 Kansas is now the highest-ranked opponent the Broncos have ever defeated at home.

Santa Clara volleyball posted one of its biggest wins in program history on Friday, downing No. 9 Kansas in five sets during opening-day action of the Santa Clara/San Jose State Tournament.

Michelle Gajdka (21), Hailey Lindberg (17) and Jensen Cunningham (16) combined for 54 of the team's 76 kills in defeating the highest-ranked opponent in Leavey Center in school history. Santa Clara knocked off No. 10 BYU, 3-1, on Sept. 26, 2015.

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The Broncos (7-4), who won their fourth straight, had a .231 attack percentage helped by Kirsten Mead who posted 61 assists, the second-highest total of her career, and a career-best 25 digs.

Kelsie Payne had a match-best 22 kills for the Jayhawks (10-2).

The Broncos opened the tournament by sweeping Idaho on Friday afternoon.

Michelle Gajdka (21), Hailey Lindberg (17) and Jensen Cunningham (16) combined for 54 of the Santa Clara's 76 kills in a thrilling five-set 22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12 victory over ninth-ranked Kansas.

The first three sets vs. Kansas were tied 38 times, with 16 lead changes, and the final frame played out the same way.

Kansas erased an early 5-1 deficit in the fifth set to claim an 8-6 edge before the Broncos stormed back.

Back-to-back kills from Gajdka pushed the Broncos into a 9-8 lead before Mead set up Cunningham twice down the stretch, the last one increasing the edge to 13-10.

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But the Jayhawks took advantage of a pair of attack errors to pull within one.

After a Santa Clara timeout, Kansas was forced into an attack error and freshman Chloe Loreen, who equaled a career best with 18 digs, finished off the match with her 11th kill of the evening.

Ahead two sets to one, the Broncos led midway through the fourth, but the Jayhawks pulled ahead 21-16.

Santa Clara scored five straight times to tie the set, but Kansas got kills from Taylor Alexander and Ashley Smith to pull away for a 25-23 win.

Nine attack errors and five service errors by Santa Clara helped the Jayhawks take the opening set, 27-25.

Fewer errors and a combined 10 kills from the Gajdka, Cunningham and Lindberg trio helped the Broncos prevail, 27-25 in the second set.

Ainise Havili had a double-double for Kansas with 50 assists and 16 digs.

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