Cal Falls to Penn State For Third Consecutive Year
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Category: Sports > Fall > Volleyball
Whenever the Cal volleyball team faces Penn State, there seems to be a set of circumstances that takes shape.
The Bears must be on the same side of the bracket, and the Nittany Lions needs to be on some unbelievable streak.
Well, that's how it been for the last three years at least.
With a 3-0 sweep of the Bears in the Gainesville, Fla., regional final match, coach Russ Rose's squad won its 100th consecutive game, continuing the longest women's Division I winning streak, one year removed from not losing a set until the final four.
In short, Penn State has established itself as the pre-eminent program in collegiate volleyball.
"Our team can hold their heads high," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "We made it a long way, we were the only team remaining from the Pac-10 and there are only four teams that have made it as far as we did in the last three years."
For facing a team approaching a triple-digit winning streak, the Bears turned in a solid performance. Cal had trouble tracking Alyssa D'Errico's spin serve -- she had five aces -- and experienced some occasional confusion along the net. Otherwise, Cal played Penn State close for the majority of the match.
It was the runs that cost Cal a chance at the victory.
"For the most part we hung with them," Feller said. "We'd get point for point, they'd get two or three, we'd go point for point, they'd get three and the game would be over."
The Bears received a much-improved showing from outside hitter Hana Cutura, who had struggled with Penn State in the past two seasons. An All-American likely to win the award again this season, Cutura had hit negative in both the 2007 and 2008 matches against the Nittany Lions.
Cutura's 16 kills led the Bears today. Freshman Correy Johnson played like she was a tournament regular, hammering home seven kills in 12 attempts and at one point, stuffing potential tournament MVP Megan Hodge for a block assist.
Despite continually playing aggressively and avoiding major dry-spells, the Bears struggled to keep up with Penn State's physical play and seemingly error-less volleyball.
"Penn State does not make mistakes," Feller said. "They are a very low-error team and they've got so many physical weapons offensively that if you don't get a chance right away they've got a 50/50 chance or better of getting a kill."
The team was clearly disheartened by the loss, Feller described himself as "getting over it," but how exactly is it for the same team to end your season three times?
"I wouldn't be surprised if (Penn State) walked out with their third national championship," senior libero Kristen Kathan said. "It's the third year in a row we got stuck in their bracket, but when you go out, you want to go out against the best."
Contact Gabriel Baumgaertner at [email protected]
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