BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Santa Clara volleyball is off to a 4-0 start through the first two match days of the 2019 season. The Broncos defeated Marshall 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-15 and swept Indiana 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 on Saturday at Wilkinson Hall to win the Indiana Invitational.
Allison Kantor was named tournament MVP and Julia Sangiacomo earned a spot on the all-tournament team for the Broncos (4-0). Kantor totaled 43 kills, including 16 against the Hoosiers (3-1) in the tournament-clinching tilt, and hit .440 or better in three of four contests. Sangiacomo posted double-digit kills in each of her first four matches as a Bronco and totaled 54 on the weekend.
Santa Clara swept Florida International to begin the season on Thursday and rallied from a two-set deficit to down UT Martin.
First-year head coach Erin Lindsey has Santa Clara off to its 11th 4-0 start in program history.
SANTA CLARA 3 MARSHALL 1 (25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-15)
Michelle Shaffer posted Santa Clara's first triple-double since 2003 (16 seasons) in the win over the Thundering Herd (1-2). She had 12 kills, 24 assists and 11 digs. Sangiacomo led all players with 18 kills and Kantor turned in a 13-kill, 13-dig double-double. Liliana Light netted 24 assists and 5.0 blocks while Gretchen Reinert had 15 digs; Taylor Odom matched Light's 5.0 blocks.
Marshall's Ciara DeBell finished the day with 13 kills and Inava Trencheva totaled 11 kills on .529 hitting. Amber Weber had a match-high 19 digs.
Santa Clara broke a 5-all tie in the first set with a 9-2 run to take a 14-7 lead. Sangiacomo had five kills during that rally, including four in five points. Marshall answered with six points in a row to cut the deficit to one, but the Broncos remained in front the rest of the way. Sangiacomo closed the frame with nine kills overall, including the last three for SCU.
In a close second set, the Broncos won three straight points to take a 21-18 lead. After Marshall won the next two to pull within a point, Santa Clara won the last four points of the frame to take a 2-0 match lead. Following a Marshall service error, Shaffer came through with an ace, Kantor had a kill to put the Broncos on set point then Light and Odom combined for a block of DeBell to seal the stanza.
The Herd overturned an 11-10 third-frame deficit with a 6-2 run to pull in front 16-13. The teams traded the next 11 points until Kantor came through with a kill to make the score 21-20 and force a Marshall timeout. The Herd won four of the next six points, including a set-clinching kill from DeBell, to stay alive.
The Broncos jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the fourth stanza, and answered Marshall's 4-0 run with an 8-2 spree to take a 20-11 advantage. Alexa Dreyer's kill put the Broncos on match point at 24-15 and Dreyer combined with Shaffer on a block for the tournament-clinching point.
SANTA CLARA 3 INDIANA 0
The Broncos and Hoosiers each entered the final match of the tournament at 3-0, setting up a winner-take-all tilt. Sangiacomo had 11 kills to go along with Kantor's 16, Shaffer led all players with 19 assists and Reinert had 11 digs. Odom totaled a match-high 5.0 blocks as the Broncos controlled the net and won the block battle 15-5.
Three Hoosiers posted double-digit kills: Breana Edwards (16), Deyshia Lofton (11 on .529 hitting) and Kendall Beerman (10). Haley Armstrong produced a match-best 15 digs.
Kantor set the tone for Santa Clara in the first frame. She had seven kills on eight swings (no errors) and served up four straight aces as part of a 6-0 run to put the Broncos ahead 20-11. Indiana mounted a big rally down the stretch, winning nine of 10 points to pull within two at 24-22 before Light set up Kantor for the set-clinching kill.
Santa Clara flipped a 12-10 deficit into a 16-12 lead midway through the second set, spurred by two aces from Sangiacomo. Later in the stanza, Dreyer and Shaffer combined for a block to put the Broncos on set point at 24-21. Indiana's Megan Sloan had two kills as the Hoosiers won three straight points to even the count at 24-all. Light set up Dreyer for a kill and finished off the frame with a kill of her own.
Edwards had three kills to help the Hoosiers get out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. The Broncos responded and eventually turned in a 7-0 spree to go in front 17-13, which included Shaffer's ace that gave them their first lead of the stanza at 14-13. Indiana responded by winning six of the next seven points to take a 19-18 lead; Beerman's three kills fueled the run. Santa Clara trailed as late as 22-21 and rattled off four points in a row to clinch the match; Shaffer and Dreyer combined for a block to finish off the day.
QUOTABLE – HEAD COACH ERIN LINDSEY
On starting the season 4-0: "All of our success over these two days lives in the team's focus and concentration. We know it's not going to be perfect in the first few matches of the year. I felt like we handled the big moments and momentum changes very well."
On the Indiana match: "What stood out was our willingness to swing and play big volleyball — play hard and dig hard-driven balls and be strong in our block. Indiana brought a lot of velocity so we really had to step up. We stuck to it and that allowed us to settle in to the match. We kept taking big swings and going for it in the critical moments and that was a difference-maker."
On Kantor's first set against Indiana: "Allie had a very smart first set. She did really well to tool the block and came through with some big serves to help get us off to a good start."
The Broncos look to continue their hot streak on Thursday against CSUN at the Fresno State Invitational. They face Cal State Bakersfield and the tournament host Bulldogs on Friday.
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