Playing just one match this week, Santa Clara opens up its West Coast Conference home slate with rival San Francisco coming to town for a Thurs., Sept. 26 match at 6 pm.
The Broncos are 6-5 this season and 1-1 in conference play after splitting its first two WCC matches down in LA. SCU won 3-1 at Pepperdine and then fell in five at LMU.
The Broncos are led individually by Megan Anders, who is hitting .332 with .98 bpg. Anders leads the team in WCC play as well, hitting .368 with 3.11 kpg. The freshmen duo of Sabrina Clayton (.291, 2.62 kpg, .41 sapg) and Nikki Hess (.236, 3.19 kpg) continue to play well in their rookie campaign. Alyssa Anderson runs the offense and scores 9.07 apg and 2.55 dpg. Danielle Rottman leads the defense with 3.38 dpg. Taylor Milton is a work-horse as well, scoring 2.43 kpg with 2.17 dpg. After sitting out much of the preseason with a toe injury, Haley Cameron is heating up, scoring 2.00 kpg, hitting .302.
USF is 5-7 and is also 1-1 in league play. They fell 3-0 at LMU and then finished off Pepperdine in five last Saturday. The Dons are led by Valentina Zaloznik, who is hitting .365 with .90 bpg. Malina Terrell leads USF with 3.64 kpg.
With just one match this week, Bronco head coach Jon Wallace said the team is giving this one match their all. "We've set up our schedule this year in segments and we will complete a segment, Thursday night after our match against USF," said Wallace. "The team is going through a period where they are just grinding really hard right now so after this week's match they will get to have a couple days off to relax and rejuvenate before going into our Portland (Oct. 3) and Gonzaga (Oct. 5) home week."
Wallace believes the time off this weekend will help the team after playing two-three matches a week on the road the past month. He expects the WCC to be a battle every night. "We beat Pepperdine in four, but we only outscored Pepperdine by six points all night long. We go 5 sets with LMU on their court - which was a good match. I think every match we compete in in the WCC is going to be that close."
Wallace pointed to unranked BYU's 3-0 win at home vs. then-No. 2 San Diego as the strength of the league. "Anyone and everyone is beatable in our conference. At the same time, every night out in our conference is going to be a battle," added Wallace. "I don't know in terms of placement but I do feel good about this group in that we will come to play and we will compete every night out. The girls know the difficulties that lie ahead and how good our conference is, but I feel very tested and ready for battle."
Wallace said the Dons record doesn't necessarily represent how talented they are this season due to some early injuries. "They are a very scary team. They have great pieces," said Wallace. "We understand that and we are prepared for that Thursday night. They are a very good team and have some unbelievable players that we will have to deal with."
The Broncos are continuing to work hard in the gym, especially on their service game. Wallace wants the team to be more mentally tough when serving big points at important times during the match. Wallace would like to see the offense run more smoothly and find a way for each person to execute at a higher level. "With two freshmen starting, we are all still learning. We have to learn that when the set is not perfect or the situation is not perfect, we need to become more efficient regardless."
The WCC is known for playing good solid defense, whether at the net or in the back court digging. Solid defense will make a big impact. "We're really going to up our defensive efforts this week and we think it will make a big difference in our play."
"We have been going hard since the beginning, and we knew this was going to be a break and let them go 100%," said Wallace. "Hopefully they'll get away from the game a little bit this weekend and hopefully they'll come back refreshed on Monday."
Wallace is excited about the WCC slate because he knows the Bronco team is going to get better on a daily basis. "Right now we are playing a lot of girls and we're still searching for some players who can come in and make a difference on the court, which is great," added Wallace. "We have some great competition on the court so a combination of great competition with a lot of young girls playing - I think that this team will just get better. Our senior leadership has been very good with Megan and Haley and Alyssa and Katherine Douglas. They are all coming out and working hard every day and showing the young ones how to work and get better."