Volleyball Begins WCC Play at Loyola Marymount Thursday, Pepperdine Saturday

10-3 Santa Clara has the most wins by a WCC program entering conference play and is off to its best start since 2014.
10-3 Santa Clara has the most wins by a WCC program entering conference play and is off to its best start since 2014.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball plays its first West Coast Conference matches of the season this week in Southern California. The Broncos face a pair of teams that won a match in the 2018 NCAA tournament — Loyola Marymount Thursday at 7 p.m. and Pepperdine Saturday at noon. 

SCU enters conference play as the only team in the WCC to reach the 10-win mark in nonconference play. The Broncos (10-3) went 2-1 last week the Thin Air Challenge in Colorado; they defeated Montana in four sets and fell to Denver in five sets before closing the tournament with a five-set victory against Air Force. 


Loyola Marymount | Pepperdine
Live Stats Loyola Marymount | Pepperdine


Santa Clara is off to its best start through 13 matches since 2014 (five seasons). The Broncos won their first six matches of the season and posted a perfect 6-0 record in neutral-site tournament matches. The team is outhitting the opposition .276 to .169 and has posted a higher hitting percentage in 11 of 13 matches as well as winning the block battle in all 13 matches.

Taylor Odom totaled 41 kills on .493 hitting last week, including a career-high 16 kills in the victory over the Grizzlies. Odom has at least 12 kills in three straight matches after reaching 12 kills one time in the team's first 10 matches. She has hit .400 or better for five matches in a row (at least 10 attempts in every match).

Michelle Shaffer logged Santa Clara's first 20-20 match since 2017 in Santa Clara's matchup against the Pioneers, posting 22 assists and 22 digs. Shaffer had a 12-kill, 24-assist, 11-dig triple-double Aug. 31 against Marshall, and is the first Bronco since 2003 and second in program history to record a triple-double and a 20-20 match in the same season (Becky Potter). Shaffer has nine double-doubles on the year including four straight.

Julia Sangiacomo has double-dig kills in five straight matches and 11 of 13 on the season. The freshman posted a career-best 22 kills against Denver. She leads the team with 171 kills (3.64/set) on the season.


Michelle Shaffer tied the program record of eight aces in a single match and became the first Bronco to hit that mark in 30 seasons (1989) as the team rolled through the second, third and fourth sets to defeat the Northern Colorado in the South Bay Battle on Sept. 14. The Thousand Oaks, California native is the fourth Bronco to serve up eight aces in a match and the first in the rally scoring era, which began in 2001. She had three aces in four points as part of a 7-0 Bronco run in the second set and five aces in six points as part of a 12-0 Bronco run in the fourth set en route to all-tournament team honors. 

Allison Kantor served up four consecutive aces in the first set of a sweep victory over Indiana on Aug. 31.

Julia Sangiacomo was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 2, 2019 following the first action of her debut season at the Indiana Invitational.

Santa Clara started 6-0 for the fifth time in program history (1979, 2002, 2005, 2016) and won all four matches to claim the Indiana Invitational crown on opening weekend (Aug. 30-31).


Erin Lindsey is in her first season as head coach of Santa Clara in 2019. Lindsey joins the Broncos after winning a national championship as an assistant coach at Stanford in 2018. She is the 10th head coach for a program that dates back to 1963 and enters her second stint as a head coach after leading Dartmouth from 2011 to 2015. Her overall record as a head coach is 64-72 (10-3 at SCU) and she is the first head coach in Santa Clara history to start 6-0 in her debut season.


• The Broncos return 13 players from 2018, 12 of whom saw the court last season; they posted a 6-24 record. 2019 returners accounted for the following percentages of last year's team stats:
1,220/1,315 kills (93 percent)
839/1,224 assists (69)
87/109 aces (80)
1,039/1,615 digs (64)
191.5/214.5 blocks (89)

• Senior Alexa Dreyer and sophomore Michelle Shaffer played in all 30 matches and all 108 sets a year ago. Shaffer, a 2018 West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team selection, led the team with 297 kills (2.75/set) and ranked second with 294 digs; she had the second-most digs among WCC freshmen. Dreyer led the team in hitting percentage (.273), total blocks (93) and block assists (87).

• Sophomore Liliana Light took the court in 27 of 30 matches, primarily as a setter, and led the team with 687 assists (6.87/set). She finished third on the Broncos in digs (187) and posted six double-doubles.

• Senior Michelle Gajdka and junior Allison Kantor each appeared in 25 matches as outside hitters. Gajdka had 10-plus kills in four straight matches from Aug. 25-31. Kantor started 20 of the last 21 matches after appearing in four of the first nine matches, all off the bench.

Brittany Gillingham (24 matches), Gretchen Reinert (23), Kamrin Caoili (22), Taylor Odom (20), Anna McCreadie (17), Alex Anthony (14) and Kathryn Decker (14) round out the returners that took the court. Natalia Rentsch did not play last season.

• Santa Clara welcomes five newcomers: freshmen Claire Doud, Haley Flanagan, Katie Lawton, Kamaile Manol and Julia Sangiacomo.

• By Class: Seniors (4), juniors (3), sophomores (6), freshmen (5).

• By State: California (11), Washington (3), Oregon (2), Colorado (1), Hawai'i (1).

• The Broncos were picked to finish 9th of 10 teams in the 2019 West Coast Conference preseason poll. BYU was the unanimous pick to win the conference title.


• 2019: 6-6 | 2018: 21-10 (10-8 WCC) | NCAA Tournament Second Round
• Picked to finish 4th of 10 in 2019 WCC preseason poll
• All-time series: Loyola Marymount leads 41-35 (first meeting 1979)
• 2018: 9/27 LMU won 3-0 @ SCU | 10/27 LMU won 3-2 @ LMU

The Lions went 2-1 last week at the Bulter-hosted Bulldog Brawl. They defeated Belmont in three sets and fell to No. 19 Illinois in four sets before defeating the tournament-host Bulldogs in four sets. Rose Booth paces the offense with 146 kills (4.06/set) and Meredith Teague (16 aces, 0.55/set) leads a service unit that averages nearly two aces per set (1.9).


• 2019: 4-7 | 2018: 22-9 (14-4 WCC) | NCAA Tournament Second Round
• Picked to finish 3rd of 10 in 2019 WCC preseason poll
• All-time series: Pepperdine leads 42-33 (first meeting 1982)
• 2018: 9/29 PEP won 3-0 @ SCU | 10/25 PEP won 3-1 @ PEP
• SCU won five of six meetings from 2015-17

Pepperdine swept UC Irvine at home and fell in a five-set match at UC Santa Barbara last week; the team is 1-5 in its last six matches. The Waves have gone the distance five times and are 0-5 in five-set matches. Shannon Scully leads the attack with 152 kills (3.30/set) while Rachel Ahrens has 130 kills (2.89/set) and 20 of the team's 68 aces.

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