The Santa Clara Bruins volleyball squad took down the Saratoga Falcons in four sets on Monday night. Santa Clara dropped the opening set 25-22 before winning three straight 25-16, 25-20, 25-15.
With the victory, the Bruins saw their overall record improve to 7-7 and league record upped to 5-4. It’s a marked improvement, to say the least, for a program that in the previous two full seasons finished with a combined record of just 5-35.
First year Head Coach Martina Carrillo appears to have the magic touch as the Bruins have an opportunity to qualify for the CCS playoffs. Monday’s win is their fifth victory over their past seven matches. In the win over Saratoga, two long service runs in the second and third sets by Cydney Ventura and Maisha Thomas were key to the victory, as well as outstanding outside hitting by Deeane Ramos and middle blocking from Soojin Spencer and Aarushi Shah.
“We struggled in the beginning of the match, but we were able to persevere,” said Thomas after the win. “When you have one good serve it makes it easier to have another good serve and it’s like a domino effect and so once you’re in the zone you’re able to keep in it.”
Thomas delivered her run of serving in an absolutely clutch spot. Down 18-14, Thomas was able to hold serve for six points, seeing her squad take a 20-18 lead. In the previous set, Ventura powered the Bruins while serving the final nine points. Two of those nine points came on powerful kills by Ramos from her spot as an outside hitter.
“We had a difficult time in that first set, but towards the end we started getting our rhythm, which usually happens,” remarked Ramos. “During the second to fourth set we just started having fun and when we have fun and get in that rhythm, we are able to build that momentum.”
Not only did the Bruins find a rhythm with serving and hitting, but their blocking was on point too. In years past, Santa Clara did not have much in the way of height on their roster but this year, two of their taller players in Spencer and Shah are both over 5’10”. That height in the middle made it much tougher for the Falcons to get their spikes through cleanly to the other side.
“The height has helped immensely,” noted coach Carrillo. “Soojin is a sophomore and she’s honestly been the one who has improved the most this season. Coming up this year playing with juniors and seniors is her having to shift her game into a much faster paced game. Her development has been really beneficial to our team.”
Santa Clara will look to develop their game even further down the stretch as they have four matches remaining on the schedule. Currently sitting in fifth place in the El Camino League standings, a strong finish could see them jump up all the way to second. At 5-4, the Bruins are just one win and two losses behind Fremont and Cupertino, who both sit at 6-2. Santa Clara has one more match against Fremont on Thursday, Oct. 21.