MORAGA, Calif. -- The final weekend of West Coast Conference competition has arrived for the Saint Mary's volleyball team as the Gaels head to Gonzaga and Portland to wrap up their 2013 WCC season.
Thursday's match at Gonzaga will be a late-night affair, with the Gaels and Bulldogs set to hit the court at 9 p.m. due to a basketball game earlier in the evening. On Saturday, Saint Mary's and Portland will tangle at 1 p.m. to close out their WCC campaigns. Both matches will be streamed live and live statistics will also be available through the school's respective websites.
Saint Mary's concluded its WCC home schedule last week with convincing wins over Santa Clara and San Francisco, pushing its record to 15-9 overall and 11-5 in conference. Each win came in three sets, re-establishing momentum for a Gaels group looking to finish the season strong.
In both wins, Jordan Shaw played the role of catalyst for Saint Mary's. In the win over Santa Clara, she finished with 17 kills, no attack errors and a .586 hitting percentage. Saturday's Senior Day win over San Francisco saw Shaw at her best again as she recorded 18 kills and 10 digs for her 12th double-double of the year.
Where the Gaels perhaps improved the most last week was on defense, winning the battle for digs in both matches. SMC registered 36 digs against Santa Clara, then got even better against San Francisco with 53. Libero Sarah Reams led the Gaels in both matches, totaling 22 digs for the two matches combined.
Gonzaga dropped a pair of road matches last week, falling at No. 24 BYU and No. 8 San Diego. The Bulldogs enter Thursday's match with an 11-14 overall record and 7-9 mark in WCC play.
Savannah Blinn has been Gonzaga's leading offensive weapon all season, and she comes into this week's matches with standout numbers. She leads the team in kills per set (3.91) and has nearly 100 more total kills than the next closest teammate. Meredith Crenshaw averages 2.06 kills per set as well to help lead the Bulldogs' attack.
Portland comes into the week still searching for its first win of the season as the Pilots enter with an 0-25 overall mark and 0-16 record in conference. Portland also dropped a pair on the road last week at San Diego and BYU.
Despite the record, Portland certainly won't be a pushover. Outside hitter Autumn Wedan is one of the WCC's top offensive performers, averaging 4.46 kills per set to lead the conference in that category by over half a kill. Setter Monica Jordan ranks sixth in the conference with 9.63 assists per set.
Saint Mary's season does not end this weekend, and local fans have one more chance to see the 2013 Gaels at McKeon Pavilion when they host UTEP on Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets to that match are available by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.