Gonzaga Survives Wild 5th to Top Santa Clara in Extra Points

  0 Bill Stadick | September 29th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, News, WCC


  • Gonzaga def. Santa Clara 3-2 (25-19, 24-26, 25-18, 18-25, 16-14)
  • Gonzaga moves to 8-7, 3-0 WCC
  • Santa Clara drops to 7-9 overall, 0-4 WCC
  • Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Attendance: 629
  • Box Score
  • VolleyMob Top 25 (Week 6)

Ahead 13-9 in the tiebreaker set, the Gonzaga Bulldogs watched their advantage slip away and were forced to fight off one match point before defeating the Santa Clara Broncos 16-14 in five thrilling sets. It was Gonzaga’s third consecutive five-set match and the first time since 1990 that the Bulldogs have started WCC play with a perfect 3-0 mark.

“This team doesn’t give up,” said Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson. “Someone always steps up and makes a play they weren’t making earlier, and that triggers a domino effect. We happened to get three of those in a row at the end.”

Two Bulldogs registered double-doubles: sophomore opposite/setter Jenna Kuehn (25 assists, 14 digs) and junior setter Faith Smith (26 assists, 18 digs). Kuehn’s nine kills also left the current WCC player of the week one shy of a triple-double. Freshman outside Sarah Penner led the offensive charge with 15 kills, hitting at a .324 clip.

Two Santa Clara standouts also recorded double-doubles of their own: senior Jensen Cunningham (19 kills, 17 digs) and sophomore outside Michelle Gajdka (18 kills, 17 digs).

Prior to the tiebreaker set, the biggest drama came in the second when a kill by Penner gave Gonzaga a 24-22 and on the verge of going up 2-0 in the match. Santa Clara answered with four straight on a kill by Gajdka, a double block by freshman outside Allison Kantor and junior middle Hailey Lindberg, a Gonzaga attack error and a Gajdka ace.

Down 13-9 in the decisive fifth, Santa Clara went on a five-point tear to put themselves in control 14-13, but double block by Penner and Alyse Whitaker and consecutive kills by Kuehn and freshman outside Chapin Gray sealed the victory for the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga will try to equal its 4-0 start in 1990 when they visit San Francisco on Saturday, while Santa Clara hosts Portland, also on Saturday.



Courtesy: Santa Clara Athletics

Volleyball Unable to Complete Comeback Against Gonzaga, Falls in Five Sets

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara volleyball was unable to complete a spirited comeback in Thursday’s West Coast Conference matchup with Gonzaga, which downed the Broncos 25-19, 24-26, 25-18, 18-25, 16-14 in Leavey Center.

Sarah Penner tallied a team-best 15 kills on a .324 attack percentage and Alyse Whitaker added 12 by hitting .417 for the Bulldogs (8-7, 3-0) who remained perfect in league play.

Jensen Cunningham posted a match-best 19 kills and Michelle Gajdka had 18 for the Broncos (7-9, 0-4). Cunningham and Gajdka each had a career-high 17 digs.

Santa Clara trailed 13-9 in the final set before reeling off five straight points fueled by two kills each from Cunningham and Gajdka, but Gonzaga scored the final three points of the match. The Bulldogs evened the set at 14-all on an attack error and Faith Smith set up Jenna Kuehn and Chapin Gray for kills to close it out.

Cunningham and Gajdka helped send it to a fifth set. Two errors sandwiched around a Brittany Gillingham ace gave the Broncos a 23-18 lead in the fourth set and the Gajdka-Cunningham duo closed it out with kills.

Smith (26) and Kuehn (25) combined for 51 assists for the Bulldogs who outhit the Broncos .275 to .230 in the match.

Kirsten Mead set up most of the Santa Clara kills, recording 55 assists and chipping in 13 digs. Allison Kantor had a career-high 11 kills, including three in the fifth set, and chipped in eight digs.

“They worked hard this week and came in early every day and committed themselves to get better,” head coach Jon Wallace said. “We have gotten better. We made a little switch in our lineup that gave us a little more firepower so we liked that change. We were really close to pulling that out. I like how we stayed in the match.”

On the brink of going down 2-0 in the match, the Broncos rallied behind the play of Gajdka who had a kill to stave off match point at 24-22 and served on the final three points, a pair of attack errors and an ace.

Gonzaga pulled ahead by claiming the third set after posting a .344 attack percentage as Whitaker had four of the team’s kills.

Jensen Cunningham (19 kills/17 digs), Michelle Gajdka (18 kills/17 digs) and Kirsten Mead (55 assists/13 digs) all recorded double-doubles in the match. For Cunningham that was the first of her career, and ninth of the season for Mead and fifth for Gajdka.

• The Broncos played without regulars Taylor Laugero and Chloe Loreen. Laugero has seen action in only three matches and none since the San Jose State game on Sept. 16. Loreen has missed the last two matches.
• Gajdka (18) recorded her ninth match of the season with double-digit kills.
• Cunningham (19) reached double figures in kills for the 11th time this season.
• Tessie Powers recorded 18 digs, one off her career high set at American on Aug. 25.

“We just made less errors. This young group that we have is making a lot errors. We just made less errors in that set. We’re real close; I honestly believe it. We just have to grow up a little bit and be a little bit better in those moments.”

Head coach Jon Wallace on what went right in the second and fourth sets

The Broncos play Portland on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Leavey Center.

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

Zags Win Third Consecutive Five-set Match

Gonzaga 3-0 to open WCC play for the first time since 1990

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–Thursday night’s match at Santa Clara offered a bit of déjà vu for Gonzaga volleyball as the Bulldogs won their third straight five-setter (25-19, 24-26, 25-18, 18-25, 16-14) and advanced to 3-0 in West Coast Conference play.

“This team doesn’t give up,” said Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson. “Someone always steps up and makes a play they weren’t making earlier, and that triggers a domino effect. We happened to get three of those in a row at the end.”

The Zags put away Santa Clara in the fifth set, withstanding a late five-point run from the Broncos and turning away one match point. Down 13-14, Sarah Penner and Alyse Whitaker teamed up for a block to tie the set. Then, Jenna Kuehn and Chapin Gray landed back-to-back kills to clinch the win, Gonzaga’s fourth five-set victory of the season and third in as many conference matches.

Over the last two years, the Zags have gone 10-3 in five-setters.

The Zags posted a .275 attack percentage as a team Thursday, out-hitting Santa Clara by 45 points. Penner led the way with 15 kills – six of those in the fifth set alone – and two more Zags reached double-digits. Most of the other stat categories were either close or tied; both teams blocked 8.0 attacks apiece, and the Broncos out-dug the Zags 79-75 and tallied one more service ace at 8-7.

Two Zags – Kuehn and Faith Smith – tallied double-doubles. Kuehn was one kill away from a triple-double with 25 assists, 14 digs, and nine kills. Smith led the team with 26 assists and 18 digs, equaling a career high.

This is the first time since 1990 that the Bulldogs (8-7 overall) have started WCC play 3-0. They look to equal that year’s 4-0 start to conference action on Saturday, Sept. 30, at San Francisco. That contest will begin at noon inside War Memorial Gym on the Hilltop.

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