Santa Clara hosts LMU for its Senior Night on Thurs., Nov. 15 at 6 pm before travelling to Saint Mary's for its final regular season match of the year on Sat., Nov. 17 at 1 pm. The Broncos will say goodbye to seniors Lexi Williamson and Kayla Lommori, both four-year starters.
Santa Clara enters the week at 20-9 and 9-5 in the West Coast Conference. Santa Clara is in fourth place. LMU is 17-11 and 7-7 in the WCC. Saint Mary's enters Thursday's match at USF with a 15-10 record and 10-4 in the WCC.
Santa Clara is led individually by Megan Anders who is hitting .366 with a team leading 3.10 kpg and 366 total kills. Haley Cameron is hitting .302 with 1.86 kpg and Taylor Milton is collecting 2.92 kpg, hitting .250. Alyssa Anderson (6.58 apg, 0.33 sapg and 2.05 dpg) and Chelsea Heier (4.75 apg, 0.34 sapg, 1.57 dpg) lead the team in the 6-2 as the team's setter. Katherine Douglas collects 2.56 dpg and 1.81 kpg. Katy Schatzman leads the team with 3.52 dpg.
Bronco head coach Jon Wallace spoke with emotion about both Williamson and Lommori earlier this week. "Both Kayla and Lexi have been through a lot in this program," said Wallace. "They were both kids that I've known basically since their sophomore years in high school. It's hard to believe now, six years later that they're in their senior year and graduating and leaving our program soon."
Williamson will be playing in her 80th match on Thursday. She has collected 396 kills, 386 digs, 69 total blocks and 42 service aces in her four years. This year Williamson is averaging 1.80 kpg and 0.75 dpg, playing in all 118 sets with 19 service aces.
"This is by far Lexi's best year, her senior year. She's had a rough go of it with some injuries. But this year, she's been healthy, and has been able to practice every day and play every game and she's doing a great job for us. I'm very happy for her that she's having a great senior year and has been able to produce and help us get our 20 wins this year."
Lommori will be playing in her 87th match for the Broncos on Thursday. She has collected 799 kills, 783 digs, 120 total blocks and 71 service aces. This year Lommori is averaging 2.04 kpg and 0.72 dpg. She has played in 100 sets this season.
"Kayla's in her fourth year now and has been through some rough years," said Wallace. "Kayla is the type of player that gives her heart and soul for every point, every play, and every day and she wears it on her sleeve. She has been up and down over these four years and it's great to see her going out on a high note. She's helping us get to 20 wins this year, 20+ wins we hope. Kayla has really turned into the heart and soul of our team. She's probably one of the hardest workers in the weight room, on the court, off the court and in the classroom. She is an emotional leader for us and gives us an enormous amount of confidence as a team in terms of her toughness and her desire to be great and help this team win."
Both the LMU and Saint Mary's are big matches for the Broncos if they wish to keep their NCAA tournament at-large bid hopes alive. Santa Clara lost 3-0 at LMU on Oct. 11 and 3-0 to then-No. 25 Saint Mary's on Oct. 25. But Wallace was quick to point out since the LMU match Oct. 11, the Broncos have made some changes that have proven to be very productive. "We switched a few things in our systems that we felt that they exposed against us. We feel much better since that match. We've grown as a team and we've gotten a lot better. Our passers have really come together. Katy Schatzman, Katherine Douglas and Taylor Milton have really played well as a passing group. Our serving has gotten better and tougher. I do believe that they serve tough so we'll have to pass well to win this match. I think all of our team is extremely motivated to play this match. They're very upset at the loss down at LMU. In fact, one of our best practices was the next day, Friday, between that and when we played Pepperdine on Saturday. So I was just trying to remind the team of the anger that they had with that match and get some revenge on them going into Thursday night."
The Broncos collected a 3-2 win vs. USF last Thursday, but fell 3-0 at No. 14 BYU on Saturday. Wallace liked the way the team prepared for the USF match, knowing it was going to be a battle. "I thought our team fought through that and battled and gelled together and somehow came out with the win," said Wallace. "Our travels to BYU were tough. They are good on their home court. Our team is very disappointed in our efforts there and again I expect this week's practices to kind of show how upset they were."
Wallace believes the team has made enormous steps to gel as a team and to play a certain round of volleyball. "My goals going into both LMU and Saint Mary's is to battle as a team, a group of 15 women and to play a style of volleyball, Bronco volleyball, that we feel can win a match or against any opponent out there. I hope that we trust and believe that we can do it and really that shows in how we play the game. So the end result will be the end result, how we get there, the process, I hope our team is staying true to what we set out back in August to do or to play a certain way."
Wallace hopes for a good crowd on Thursday's senior night to help send Williamson and Lommori off in style. "I really want to give props to Kayla and Lexi for hanging in there and helping turn this program around. They've given this program everything they had, every year, every day and I appreciate all their efforts and most of them were through some bad times and so I feel that their characters have stayed true and good throughout. They are great Broncos."
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