LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Santa Clara volleyball scored its second win against a ranked opponent in the young 2016 season Friday night to remain undefeated. The Broncos downed No. 21 Louisville 25-23, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22 at the KFC Yum! Center in the second match of the Active Ankle Challenge.
Santa Clara and Louisville sparred throughout the match; each set was decided by six points or fewer. The Broncos (4-0) held the defending ACC champion Cardinals (3-1) to a .153 hitting percentage.
"Louisville did a great job of making our team feel stressed tonight," head coach Jon Wallace said. "Our team worked relentlessly to stay focused on the right things, which enabled us to be strong at the end of the match. We learned a lot tonight and we got better."
Middle blockers Jensen Cunningham and Hailey Lindberg set the tone for the Broncos. Cunningham topped Santa Clara with 12 kills and hit .440 in the victory — she committed only one error. Lindberg led the team in kills after each of the first three sets. Sabrina Clayton chipped in with a 10-kill, 11-dig double-double and Taylor Laugero tallied 20 digs for her third straight match with 20+ digs.
Midway through a close opening frame, Santa Clara won six of seven points to take a 20-15 lead. Louisville responded to level the score at 20 and four points later, the teams were tied at 22. Hess had a kill and an ace on consecutive plays to put the Broncos on set point, and Lindberg came through with a set-clinching kill. The Broncos and Cardinals were tied up 11 times in the first stanza.
The Cardinals took control of the second set and jumped out to an 8-3 lead. The Broncos rallied to pull within one point at 14-13 and came within two points of the tournament hosts four times before the end of the set. Louisville's Tess Clark had a pair of kills in the last four points as the Cardinals evened the match heading into the break.
Santa Clara got off to a fast start in the third set and went in front 11-4. The Broncos led by as many as eight points before withstanding a late Cardinal run to win the set 25-20. Neither team led by more than two points in the fourth set until Santa Clara went on a 3-0 run to take a 20-16 lead. Cunningham helped the Broncos seal the match with three late kills, while Laugero had nine digs in the last set.
Louisville's Melanie McHenry led all players with 16 kills and Molly Sauer had a match-high 21 digs. The Broncos and Cardinals finished close in kills (SCU 50 – UL 49), but Louisville committed 28 attack errors to Santa Clara's 17.
Santa Clara takes the court for two matches Saturday; the Broncos square off against Auburn (2-3) at 9 a.m. PDT and finish the weekend against Stony Brook (1-4) at 2 p.m. The Tigers swept the Seawolves Friday night.
Connect with the Broncos on Social Media