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Women's volleyball makes national semifinals
To say the 2005 season was a good year for Santa Clara’s 11th-ranked women’s volleyball team would be quite an understatement. In providing the collegiate volleyball world with perhaps the best Cinderella story of the year, the Broncos finished their season in a most unlikely place—San Antonio, Texas, which was the site of this year’s national championship semifinals. Though the team has been to the NCAA tournament 10 times and was initially unseeded, Santa Clara advanced to the “final four” for the first time in program history.
Santa Clara took down three ranked teams during the three-week tournament, including South Bay rival and then-fifth-ranked Stanford in the second round, its first victory over the Cardinal in 20 tries. In addition, a 3-0 triumph over then-No. 19 Pepperdine and a thrilling 3-2 victory against then-No. 4 Arizona enabled the West Coast Conference Champions to punch their tickets to the Alamo City.
Leading the charge to San Antonio was senior opposite Cassie Perret, Santa Clara’s first First Team All-American. The Menlo Park native was also named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year after averaging 3.22 kills, 2.20 digs, and 0.82 blocks per game, while hitting at a .370 clip. Sophomores Anna Cmaylo and Crystal Matich earned All-American honors as well, both having been named to the Third Team. As a dominating middle blocker, Cmaylo put down 3.26 kills per game at a very efficient .361 hitting percentage to go along with her stellar defense up at the net. She also led the team in total blocks, with 118, and in blocks per game (1.17). Matich quarterbacked the team all year and established herself as one of the best playmakers in the country, guiding the team to an overall hitting percentage of .288 and handing out 13.98 assists per game. Santa Clara’s team has now earned a total of five All-American honors, with middle blocker Becky Potter earning Second Team honors in 2002 and Third Team accolades in 2003.
Other Bronco members contributed greatly to the successful tournament run, including All-WCC First Team selections Kim McGiven and Brittany Lowe. McGiven, a junior outside hitter, was the leading attacker for the Broncos, putting away 4.15 kills per game. Lowe’s fantastic all-around play on the left side garnered her WCC Freshman of the Year accolades. Sophomore libero Caroline Walters was the mainstay in the back row, doing a great job passing and digging the ball. For masterminding his squad’s great performance in the 2005 season, head coach Jon Wallace was named the West Region Coach of the Year.
The Broncos are the only unseeded team to qualify for the national semifinals in 25 years of NCAA volleyball history. Once in San Antonio, Santa Clara lost a heartbreaking 3-0 contest with the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in the semifinal round on Dec. 15, but the team knows they made school history by making it into the NCAA “final four.” Women’s volleyball is the fifth athletic team at Santa Clara to earn a spot in a national semifinal, joining the men’s basketball and baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer teams.
At the end of this amazing season, the Broncos had an overall record of 27-5, tying the 2000 team for the best single-season record in school history. Although Santa Clara will lose Lexie Bothman, Rachel Greenberg, Kristen Luxton, and Perret to graduation, five starters along with its libero will be returning in 2006, setting up future success for the SCU volleyball program.
SCU rates among nation's best
Fall Bronco Sports Highlights:
• Four Bronco sports teams ranked among the top 20 programs during the season, while the volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams broke into the top-10 in the national polls. The men’s water polo team ranked as high as 18th nationally during the season.
• Three SCU student-athletes were named national athletes of the week: Jordan Angeli, women’s soccer; Keith Devey, men’s soccer; and Cassie Perret, volleyball.
• Eight student-athletes were named on national teams of the week for their particular sports.
• A total of 24 Broncos were named to all-West Coast Conference teams—eight women’s soccer players, seven men’s soccer players, five volleyball players, and four cross country
• Under first-year head coach Rob Miller, the men’s golf team won team championships at its first two competitions of the fall season and finished second in the annual Santa Clara Invitational.
• Women’s golfer Megan Stoddart won her first tournament as a Bronco at the Bronco Fall Invitational in Boise, Idaho, and the team finished the fall season with a second-place finish at the Cal Poly Invitational.
• Sophomore cross country runner Shannon Bell ran the second-fastest time ever for a Bronco at the WCC Championships, and her second-place finish equaled the best-ever for a SCU runner.
Broncos earn WCC Player of the Year honors
Santa Clara men’s soccer player Mehdi Ballouchy and volleyball player Cassie Perret were named the top student-athletes in the West Coast Conference by the head coaches in their respective sports. Ballouchy, a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, given by the Missouri Athletic Club to the nation’s top college soccer player, is generally considered one of the most creative and best technical players in the college game. Perret is one of the top outside hitters in school history and her statistics rank among the nation’s best.
SCU leads WCC Commissinoer's Cup