SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball follows up its fifth five-set victory of the season with a trip to the Northwest for a Thursday matchup at Portland. The Broncos and Pilots meet for a 7 p.m. first serve at Chiles Center.
The Broncos won for the third time in five matches on Saturday afternoon as they knocked off Bay Area and West Coast Conference rival Saint Mary's 25-18, 21-25, 25-10, 24-26, 15-13 at home. Michelle Gajdka (20 kills/15 digs), Chloe Loreen (15 kills/career-high 25 digs), and Kirsten Mead (62 assists/17 digs) all registered double-doubles for Santa Clara. Jensen Cunningham had a career-high 20 kills and Taylor Laugero chipped in 21 digs.
Portland lost for the third time in as many matches on Saturday afternoon; dropping a five-set match 11-25, 25-20, 25-14, 22-25, 15-9 to Gonzaga at home. Reghan Pukis and Hannah Troutman tied for the match lead with 17 kills apiece.
GAME DAY LINKS
• Santa Clara: 10-12/3-7 WCC/4-5 Away | Portland: 13-8/4-5 WCC/6-5 Home
• SCU All-Time vs. Pilots: 53-11 | First Meeting: 1979
• 2016: 10/1 Santa Clara Won 3-2 in Portland | 10/27 Portland Won 3-1 in Santa Clara
• The teams split matches in 2015 and 2016.
Mead moved into fifth place all-time in SCU career assists with her 12th assist in the second set of the Saint Mary's match, passing Julie Jamile (1987-90, 3,875 career assists). Mead had 62 assists in the win and finished the day with 3,926 career assists. She ranks second all-time among Broncos that spent their entire careers in the rally-scoring era.
Mead topped 50 assists for the fifth time in seven matches on Saturday. The senior setter leads the WCC with 902 assists and ranks second in the conference with 10.62 assists/set and 28 aces.
Loreen has a double-double in four straight matches and six overall on the season. She led the team with 12 kills and 11 digs last Thursday night against Pacific. The freshman outside hitter is averaging 14.8 kills/match and 16.3 digs/match in Santa Clara's last four tilts, including a road win at Pepperdine on Oct. 14.
Gajdka has 13-plus kills in six of her last seven matches. The sophomore outside hitter has produced double-digit kills in 14 of 22 matches to go with eight double-doubles on the year. Her 20 kills against Saint Mary's were on shy of a career-high 21, which she notched in a five-set win over No. 9 Kansas on Sept. 15.
Cunningham has produced 16-plus kills for Santa Clara in five of the last seven matches and 22.0-plus points in four of the last seven contests. She also has seven or more blocks three times in the last four matches, including four block solos.
After being limited to six sets in the team's first 17 matches due to injury, Laugero has played in all 22 sets of Santa Clara's last five contests. The sophomore libero averaged 4.77 digs/set in three matches from Oct. 6-14, including a co-career high 32 digs against Pepperdine on Oct. 14. The Broncos are 5-3 when Laugero takes the court this season.
Portland won four of its first six matches to start conference play and has lost four or its last five since then. The team's five WCC losses have come against opponents ranked in the top half of the league: BYU, San Diego, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount and Pacific. As a team, the Pilots rank in the WCC's top three for eight major categories. They are second in digs/set (15.78) and opponent hitting percentage (.192).
Hannah Troutman is the most active attacking player in the WCC; she leads the conference with 1,012 total attacks and 12.49 attacks/set while ranking second with 324 kills and 4.00 kills/set. More than one-third of the team's attack attempts have come from the senior outside hitter. Cali Thompson is second in the WCC with 834 assists and third with 27 aces.
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