SEATTLE — Santa Clara volleyball dropped a morning match against undefeated Cal Poly, then recorded a sweep of Seattle Saturday night as part of the Washington Invitational. The Broncos fell to the Mustangs 27-25, 25-21, 25-18 at Washington's Alaska Airlines Arena, then bounced back for a 25-20, 25-18, 25-17 victory over the Redhawks at Connolly Complex.
In its second match, Santa Clara tallied its first sweep of the season. Jensen Cunningham finished the weekend with 26 kills on .417 hitting.
MATCH 1: Cal Poly Clutch Down Stretch Runs to Top Santa Clara
The Mustangs (5-0) came through with big stretches in the middle and latter parts of all three sets. Cal Poly's offense ran through sisters Adlee and Torrey Van Winden, who tied for a match-high 15 kills apiece. The team's rotation featured only eight players, including Taylor Nelson, whose 30 assists and 15 digs were both match-best marks.
Michelle Gajdka had a 10-kill, 15-dig double-double to lead the Broncos (2-3) in both categories. Cunningham hit .444 with nine kills and Taylor Odom had a hand in six of the team's nine blocks. Kirsten Mead extended her double-double streak to five matches on 28 assists and 12 digs.
Santa Clara led or was tied with the Mustangs through the first 50 points of the opening set. Cal Poly trailed 24-22 and fought off three set points as part of a 5-1 run to close out the first frame. Adlee Van Winden had eight of the Mustangs' 16 kills for the first set and Torrey Van Winden tallied two kills over the last six points.
Cal Poly maintained an edge early in the second set before Santa Clara used a 7-3 stretch to pull ahead at 16-14. Odom notched two block assists and a kill during one of Santa Clara's best sprees of the morning. Trailing 17-15, Cal Poly won five straight points and finished the set on a 10-4 run en route to a 2-0 lead at intermission.
In the third stanza, the Mustangs broke a 13-13 tie with a 5-1 run and won 12 of the tilt's last 17 points to maintain their perfect record on the season.
MATCH 2: Broncos Log First Sweep of 2017 against Redhawks
Santa Clara carried momentum from a close first set to the second and third frames on the way to its first sweep of the season. Allison Kantor led all players with a career-high 10 kills and her nine digs were second to only Tatiana San Juan's 10. Gajdka hit .444 with nine kills and committed only one attack error in 18 attempts for the Broncos (3-3).
The Redhawks (1-5) were led by Katarina Glavinic, who had a team-high seven kills and a match-high four total blocks. Tijana Milojevic topped all players with 11 digs.
Santa Clara held Seattle to .065 hitting in the first frame and used a late run to distance itself from the hosts. The Broncos broke a 17-17 tie with a 4-1 stretch and won eight of the set's last 11 points. There were 11 ties and five lead changes in the opening stanza.
The Broncos' put together their most complete set of the weekend in the second frame, including an 8-3 span that led to an 18-12 advantage. Mead set the team to a .370 hitting percentage and Santa Clara committed only two attack errors.
Gajdka had six kills and Kantor added four kills in the third set to help the Broncos cap the weekend with a sweep. Santa Clara jumped out to a 9-3 lead and led by no fewer than three points the rest of the way.
Quotable (Head Coach Jon Wallace)
"Jensen, Kirsten and Tatiana played well all weekend long for us. Those three displayed great leadership as upperclassmen and gave a great effort."
"Going 1-2 is not the result we wanted, but I feel we got better as the weekend went along. We're looking forward to getting back to work in the gym next week and our next matches up in Davis."
• Santa Clara remains perfect all-time against Seattle with a 4-0 head-to-head record.
• The Broncos have never dropped a set against the Redhawks. The two teams met in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
• Mead had a career-long streak with five straight double-doubles through the Cal Poly match.
• Taylor Laugero, who led the team with 471 digs last season, has not played through six matches this year due to injury.
Santa Clara continues nonconference action next weekend at the UC Davis Invitational. The team's two Friday matches are against Boise State at 10 a.m. and Portland State at 5:30 p.m. The Broncos face the host Aggies Saturday at 2 p.m.