EYEBRONCO: Click here to watch the Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap for Oct. 31, 2012.
Fresh off its 3-2 win at No. 14 San Diego on Saturday, handing the Toreros their first home loss this season and just its fourth in three plus years, Santa Clara will head up I-280 on Thursday to play at USF at 6:30 pm. The Broncos will return home on Saturday when they host Portland at 1 pm.
Santa Clara enters this weekend at 17-8 and 6-4 in the West Coast Conference. They own three wins vs. ranked WCC teams in the past month.
USF is 13-10 and 4-6 in league play; and the Dons are 5-2 at home. They have lost four of their last five in league play, but all four were to the league's ranked teams at the time – No. 24 Pepperdine, No. 16 BYU, No. 13 San Diego and No. 25 Saint Mary's.
"USF is a very good team," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "They have two very good outside hitters – two of the best we will see in our conference. With our league schedule being so unbalanced with everyone's travel, the records at this point mean nothing. USF is a very good team. They have beaten Cal twice. They are talented."
But Wallace was quick to point out that his own team is very focused and excited to play there Thursday night. "Our team is really enjoying the process including the practices," added Wallace. "They are enjoying being around each other and competing against all the teams in the WCC. Our attitude in the gym right now is great. We have identified two or three things we want to get better at each week. We know we need to improve now and on Thursday in order to have a chance to win and continue to improve throughout."
Portland is 6-19 and 0-11 in WCC play entering this week. They will travel to LMU on Thursday prior to coming to Santa Clara on Saturday. They are 0-8 coming into this weekend on the road.
"We will approach the Portland match the same as we are matching the USF match," said Wallace. "We will watch film, we will pick up on the keys to the match and work on that Friday. Our goal as a group is to play as hard as we can and enjoy competing with this group of girls. Every match in the WCC is a challenge and there is a lot riding on every match."
Ranked No. 37 in the latest RPI, this week in practice the Bronco team is focusing on returning to a quicker offense for their pin players and they are also working on their offensive efficiency. "We want every player to get 1 percent better every day in practice," said Wallace.
Wallace continues to be impressed with how his team really understands how strong they are as a group of 15. "Their teamwork has been amazing this year. It's just pleasing to see their understanding of how important teamwork is," explained Wallace.
The Broncos are led by last week's WCC Player of the Week, Megan Anders, who is hitting .377 with 2.92 kpg. Taylor Milton collects a team-high 2.95 kpg and is No. 3 in digs with 2.27. Alyssa Anderson (6.39 apg and 1.92 dpg) and Chelsea Heier (4.82 apg and 1.61 dpg) pace the team's offense by running the 6-2. Katy Schatzman (3.53) and Katherine Douglas (2.50) lead the team in digs. Anderson and Heier both lead the team with .32 sapg.