SAN JOSÉ, Calif. — The final match of the Santa Clara/San José State Tournament was a spirited battle between co-hosts at Spartan Gym on Saturday night. San José State capped the tournament with a 21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 victory over Santa Clara in the first meeting between the teams since 2008.
The Broncos (7-5) win the invitational by way of a tiebreaker over No. 9 Kansas, who defeated Idaho in four sets Saturday morning in Leavey Center. Santa Clara defeated the Jayhawks in five sets Friday night in Leavey Center. Both teams finished 2-1 on the weekend. Idaho and the Spartans (8-3) each went 1-2.
Kirsten Mead earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the three matches and Jensen Cunningham also landed a spot on the all-tournament team. Mead totaled 138 assists (11.5/set) and finished second on the Broncos with 41 digs. Cunningham led the Broncos in kills (41), hitting percentage (.493) and total blocks (14.0).
The rest of the all-tournament team included Kelsie Payne (KU) Ainise Havili (KU), Kaela Straw (UI) and Nandyala Gama (SJSU).
San José State's Fernanda Vido led all players with 18 kills on .245 hitting in the invitational's final match. Breann Robinson had 53 assists and set the team to a .241 hitting percentage while Luiza Andrade topped all players with 24 digs. Cunningham led the Broncos with 13 kills and Chloe Loreen added 10.
The teams were tied up seven times in the first set until Santa Clara broke a 17-17 deadlock by winning six points in a row. Cunningham started the stretch with a kill, one of her five for the first set on six attempts — the senior hit .833 in the first stanza.
Giulua Gávio served San José State to a 15-11 lead with three straight aces as part of a 4-0 run in the second set. The Spartans closed the stanza by winning 14 of the final 20 points. Both sides picked up the offense in the second frame; San José State hit .300 (.085 in the first set) and Santa Clara hit .308 (.098 first set).
The Spartans seized early momentum out of the break, winning four points on the strength of a Bronco service error as well as kills from Gama, Vido and Latahevai Lousi. Leading 12-10, the Spartans won seven points in a row and nine of the next 10 to pull ahead 2-1 in the contest.
Saturday night's fourth set featured the teams trading streaks. There were seven combined runs of 3-0 or longer, including an early 5-0 Bronco spree that featured two blocks and a kill by Cunningham. The Spartans made the definitive late run by winning four points in a row en route to a 22-19 lead. Santa Clara pulled within one point three times before Latahevai ended the match with a kill.
- Mead earned her second collegiate honor as the top player in a tournament (2016 USC Baden Invitational MVP).
- Taylor Laugero, who missed the first nine matches of the year due to injury, made her first start of the season on Saturday night. Laugero played in two sets against both Idaho and No. 9 Kansas on Friday.
- The Broncos are 14-24 all-time against the Spartans.
Santa Clara hosts nationally-ranked opponents to begin West Coast Conference play next week. The Broncos face No. 14 BYU Thursday at 7 p.m. and No. 17 San Diego Saturday at 1 p.m.
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