SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara volleyball used an efficient offense and strong defense to secure its first West Coast Conference victory of the season, a 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 sweep of San Francisco on Friday.
Michelle Gajdka tallied a match-high 15 kills and just missed a double-double with nine digs while Jensen Cunningham posted 12 kills and Allison Kantor added 11 for the Broncos (8-10, 1-5) who recorded a .255 attack percentage and 51 digs in the match.
Kirsten Mead filled up the stat sheet with 36 assists, nine digs and a career-best five aces for Santa Clara, which was knocked off in five sets in the last two outings.
Nora Buvarp-Lavik, Carly Lowry and Laura Leap each posted seven kills for the Dons (3-16, 0-6) who were held to a .168 attack percentage, but did manage 9.0 team blocks.
Taylor Laugero, the team's starting libero, returned from injury to post a match-best 17 digs.
Kantor (six), Cunningham (five) and Gajdka (four) combined for 15 of the team's 17 kills in the third set, which was tied at 11-all before the Broncos assumed control. A kill by Gajdka and an ace from Mead fueled a 4-0 that pushed the lead to 21-17. Cunningham and Gajdka closed it out with back-to-back kills.
With San Francisco on the verge of tying the match at one set apiece, the Broncos responded with Brittany Gillingham and Mead on the serve. After trailing 20-17, Santa Clara tied the second set at 20-all on a San Francisco attack error, but the Dons pulled ahead on a Lowry kill.
Santa Clara used that momentum to score the last five points on three service errors, an ace by Mead and kill from the All-WCC setter.
Gajdka (six) and Cunningham (five) combined for 11 kills in the opening set as the Broncos posted a .429 attack percentage.
• Laugero missed all but three of the first 17 matches of the season due to injury.
• Mead had her sixth-career match with four-plus aces.
• Gajdka (15) had her 11th match of the year with double-digit kills.
• Cunningham (12) finished in double figures in kills for the 12th time this season.
"It feels good to get a win. The girls have been working so hard for this and we've come so close. I'm really happy for them and hopefully it gives us some momentum and confidence going forward. I hope we can ride this into next week.
Head coach Jon Wallace
The Broncos make their annual Southern California trip next week, facing Loyola Marymount on Thursday (8 p.m.) and Pepperdine on Saturday (noon).
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