The season’s longest home stand ended on a high for the Dons, as they proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Bay Area. USF completed three straight wins against Bay Area rivals with a 3-1 victory against the Santa Clara Broncos at War Memorial Gym on Friday night. The Dons are now 10-10 on the season and 6-4 in WCC play, good for fourth in the conference.
In addition to besting Saint Mary’s and Pacific last week, USF is now on a four-game home winning streak, its first since the 2009 season.
On Friday, the Dons took the first set 25-22 and also saw senior libero Rebecca Kopilovitch take possession of third place on USF’s all-time dig list with her six digs in the set. She went on to end the game with a match-high 20 digs.
“It’s just fun to play defense and go for everything and frustrate the other teams,” Kopilovitch told USFDons.com after her personal milestone match. “In order to dig we have to have a great block setup and that’s something that we’ve been working on. The girls have been doing a great job of blocking the other team and having the ball go to where it needs to go to make our job on defense much easier.”
USF fans were worried at the start of the second set, when the Broncos jumped ahead quickly and gained a 10-4 lead on the Dons. However, a delay in the game due to a rotation problem proved to be just what USF needed to regroup and stop Santa Clara’s momentum. The Dons eventually took the set 25-19 and were up two sets to none heading into halftime.
‘They definitely had the momentum, but after the delay it gave us a chance to catch our breath and I think that in combination with them being a little bit confused and they lost momentum right there,” associate head coach Ken Ko told USFDons.com. “Before you knew it, it was 10-all and it gave us new life and we really pushed forward and got ahead.”
Santa Clara came back from the break strong and earned a victory in the third set by a score of 25-22, before the Dons put the final nail in the coffin by taking the fourth set 25-17. This victory signaled a season sweep of the Broncos for only the second time in the two schools’ 34-year series history.
Led by senior outside hitter Malina Terrell’s 17 kills, USF managed to hit .298 in the match, their second best offensive outing in conference play this season. With the help of senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh’s 31 assists and sophomore setter Jurja Vlasic’s 16 assists, the Dons powered themselves to their third straight win in two weeks.
On Saturday, USF’s volleyball alumnae returned for their annual alumni weekend festivities, which consisted of USF alumni playing against the current Dons squad.
Following the Santa Clara match, USF now heads back on the road for two games. They face Portland in Portland, Ore. at 7:00 p.m. tonight and Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2.