BOISE, Idaho — No. 17 Santa Clara volleyball dropped a pair of close matches to start play at the Boise State Invitational Friday. The Broncos won the first two sets before falling to Arizona State 20-25, 13-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-8, then lost a 25-21, 25-19, 15-25, 25-19 decision to host Boise State at Bronco Gym.
The Broncos (9-2) were the last remaining unbeaten team in the West Coast Conference entering the day.
ARIZONA STATE 3, NO. 17 SANTA CLARA 2
Nikki Hess and Hailey Lindberg paced the Bronco offense in their opening match. Hess led all players with 20 kills and hit .269 while Lindberg hit an efficient .500 with nine kills. Freshman Callie Jones — starting just the fourth match of her career — set a new collegiate-best mark with 47 assists. Jensen Cunningham had seven block assists and Taylor Laugero totaled 13 digs.
The Broncos took control of a close opening set with a 6-2 run that extended its lead to 14-8. Hess helped the Broncos take the early lead with four of her five first-set kills in the team's last eight points. Boise native Katrina Inch and Cunningham combined for a block to clinch the frame.
Santa Clara hit .387 in the first set and kept the offense rolling with a .344 hitting percentage in the second set. Sabrina Clayton had two kills and a block assist in the first five points of the second stanza. Five different Broncos recorded a kill as part on an 11-3 run to put the team up two sets at the break.
The Sun Devils (7-3) got back in the contest by overturning deficits midway through the third and fourth sets. In the third frame, neither team led by more than two points until Arizona State won four of five points to go ahead 20-16, then closed the set on a 4-1 run. The Broncos led by as many as four points early in the fourth set before Arizona State went on a 5-1 run to take an 18-16 lead. Lexi Maclean capped the fourth set with one of her 12 kills.
In the final set, Arizona State won seven points in a row for the longest unanswered stretch by either team in the match; the Broncos committed four attack errors during that span that put the Sun Devils ahead 10-4. Oluoma Okaro and Cassidy Pickrell each had 15 kills for Arizona State and Pickrell led all players with 14 digs.
BOISE STATE 3, NO. 17 SANTA CLARA 1
Hess had a 16-kill, 11-dig double-double for Santa Clara in the nightcap. Clayton led the team with 12 digs and Mary Shepherd added 10. Cunningham hit .647 with 12 kills and Jones had 34 assists.
Boise State set the tone by starting the match on a 6-1 run, during which four different players had a kill for the host Broncos (8-4). Santa Clara rallied to tie the set twice and used a 5-0 run to cut its deficit to 22-21, but Boise State won three straight points to end the frame. The tournament hosts went in front 6-2 in the second set and later went on a 5-1 run to take an 18-12 lead en route to a two-set advantage at the break; they hit .438 in the second stanza.
Santa Clara worked its way back into the match with a strong start of its own by winning four straight points to start the third set. The visiting Broncos led the entire third frame, and closed it out with a 5-1 run. Boise State started and ended the fourth set with good stretches of 6-2 at the outset of the frame and 5-1 to seal the match.
Sabryn Roberts hit .303 with 16 kills for Boise State. Jaymee-Lee Bulda had 45 assists and Maddi Osburn finished with 19 digs — both were match-high efforts.
The Broncos close out play at the Boise State Invitational Saturday against UC Davis at 1:30 p.m. The Aggies fell to Boise State in four sets on Friday.
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