Volleyball Plays Final Road Matches at Portland, Gonzaga

Santa Clara looks for the season sweep against both Portland and Gonzaga to close out WCC road play.
Santa Clara looks for the season sweep against both Portland and Gonzaga to close out WCC road play.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball plays its final road matches of the 2019 regular season this week. The Broncos face Portland Thursday at 7 p.m. and Gonzaga Saturday at noon in West Coast Conference contests. 

SCU (16-10, 6-7 WCC) fell in home matches against the WCC's top two teams last week — No. 11 BYU in four sets on Thursday and San Diego in three sets on Saturday. The Pilots (11-13, 3-10) have lost four straight matches while the Bulldogs (9-16, 3-10) have won three straight contests. The Broncos swept the Bulldogs on Oct. 17 and erased a two-set deficit to defeat Portland on Oct. 19.


Portland | Gonzaga
Live Stats Portland | Gonzaga


Taylor Odom leads the WCC and ranks second in the NCAA in both blocks (152) and blocks/set (1.62). She ranks second in total blocks in SCU single-season history and has the second-most during the rally-scoring era. Odom needs 26 more blocks over the final five matches to set the single-season block record (179 by Stacey MacDonough in 1988.) Odom's block average is also second all-time (Annalisa Muratore – 1.77 in 2004).

Odom leads a Bronco team at the net that tops the WCC with 258.5 total blocks (13th NCAA) and 2.64 blocks/set (21st NCAA). The Broncos rank second in the conference and 31st in the country with a .164 opponent hitting percentage.

Michelle Shaffer leads the WCC with 42 service aces. Shaffer set career-high marks in assists in back-to-back matches, notching 30 at San Francisco on Nov. 1 and 46 against BYU on Nov. 7.

Gretchen Reinert has 12 or more digs in six straight matches. She has recorded 10-plus digs in 22 of 26 matches and hit the 20-dig mark four times. Reinert and Shaffer have played in all 26 matches and all 98 sets on the season.

Julia Sangiacomo leads the team with 312 kills (3.35/set) and 372.5 points (4.01/set); the freshman ranks second in the WCC in points/set. She has double-digit kills in six of the last seven matches and 18 of 26 tilts on the season.

Allison Kantor has double-digit kills in each of the last seven contests and 18 of 26 matches overall. She has logged 11-plus kills and eight-plus digs in six straight contests.


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 Northern Colorado 3-1 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 (2001-present). 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.

Shaffer logged Santa Clara's first 20-20 match since 2017 in Santa Clara's matchup against Denver on Sept. 20, 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).

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. Sangiacomo had 54 kills (4.15/set) on .341 hitting to go along with 25 digs, nine aces, two block solos and 66.5 points en route to all-tournament team honors. SCU was one of only two WCC teams to finish opening weekend undefeated.

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

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). The Broncos also posted their best start through 13 matches since 2014 (10-3, five seasons). The team had a perfect 6-0 record in neutral-site tournament matches and SCU was the only WCC program to win 10 matches in nonconference play.


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 70-79 (16-10, 6-7 WCC 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: 9-16 (3-10 WCC, 3-6 Home) | 2018: 11-18 (8-10 WCC)
• Picked to finish 8th of 10 in 2019 WCC preseason poll
• All-time series: Santa Clara leads 51-14 (first meeting 1987)
• 2019: 10/17 SCU won 3-0 @ SCU
• 2018: 10/4 GU won 3-2 @ GU | 11/3 GU won 3-2 @ SCU
• Four of the last five matches in the series have gone to five sets

The Bulldogs lost their first 10 conference matches of the season before going on a three-match winning streak. Last week, Gonzaga fell behind both Saint Mary's and Pacific 2-0 before rallying to win both matches.

Gonzaga ranks third in the conference and 35th in the country with 1.65 aces/set. Kennedy Croft's 0.41 aces/set rank fourth in the conference and 57th in the NCAA. Sarah Penner (234 kills) and Chapin Gray (180) pace the Zag offense.

In the first meeting this season, Santa Clara outhit Gonzaga .283 to .050 in a sweep at Leavey Center. Sangiacomo posted an 11-kill, 11-dig double-double for the Broncos while Penner and Sarah Mack led the Bulldogs with five kills each.


• 2019: 11-13 (3-10 WCC, 4-7 Home) | 2018: 20-13 (6-12 WCC)
• Picked to finish t-6th of 10 (Pacific) in 2019 WCC preseason poll
• All-time series: Santa Clara leads 55-13 (first meeting 1979)
• 2019: 10/19 SCU won 3-2 @ SCU
• 2018: 10/6 POR won 3-0 @ POR | 11/1 POR won 3-1 @ SCU

The Pilots have won only two sets in their last four matches; they fell against Saint Mary's in three sets and Pacific in four sets on the road last week.

Portland is the conference's top serving team at 1.81 aces/set (10th NCAA) and 165 total aces (27th NCAA). Grace Zilbert leads the squad from the service line with 34 aces while four other Pilots have 23 or more aces. Liz Reich paces the Portland attack with 318 kills (3.49/set).

In the first meeting this season, Sangiacomo led all players with 17 kills and Allison Kantor had 14 kills along with a career-best 22 digs for the Broncos. Reich led Portland with 15 kills. Santa Clara outblocked the Pilots 14.5-6.0.

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