Volleyball Wishes It Could Turn Back Clocks After Losing Weekend





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When the clocks were set back last week for daylight savings, the Cal volleyball team wished it could go back a month instead of an hour.

Four weeks ago, the Cal volleyball team earned credibility around the Pac-10 by playing USC and UCLA in two very tough and close losses at home.

But after coming back from a trip to Los Angeles last weekend with a pair of blowout losses, the Bears (15-8, 5-8 in the Pac-10), are left with serious doubts about their postseason future. 

"We are playing badly right now," middle blocker Camille Leffall said. "We are not playing how we did earlier in the year." 

Following a 9-0 start and victories over two ranked opponents in conference play, Cal had hopes of an NCAA bid, but with its best player Mia Jerkov out, and five demanding Pac-10 contests left, the Bears are now wondering whether they will win another match.

"We would have to win almost all of our remaining matches, which will be very hard," Leffall said. "Making the tournament is still a goal of ours, but we have really dug ourselves a hole."

The Bears could find that hole turning into a grave.

Cal failed to win a single game this past weekend, getting swept by both the Trojans and the Bruins 3-0 on the road. 

The Bears gave their best impression of Mike Tyson's sparing partner on Friday night against USC.

Absorbing a brutal assortment of hits, without producing any offense of its own, Cal lost in straight sets 30-15, 30-13, 30-22.

"It was a combination of things going really wrong on our side of the net and USC being really good," team captain Caity Noonan said. 

The Trojans (20-0, 13-0) showed why they are the No. 1 team in the country with a dominating performance, led by their two big guns Keao Burdine and April Ross, who combined for 25 kills.

Saturday was just a continuation of the previous night for the Bears. No. 18 UCLA showed no mercy for Cal's shorthanded lineup.

Unable to match their opponent's firepower again, the Bears seemed to be in the middle of a war with nothing but a pea-shooter, falling to the Bruins 30-23, 32-30, 30-24.

UCLA (13-10, 6-7) was led by Lauren Fendrick, who had 14 kills and nine digs and Brittany Ringel who contributed with 13 kills and nine digs.

"We are always a step behind UCLA-whenever we play them," Noonan said.

Freshman Jenna Brown tried to bring the Bears back to life in the second game against the Bruins. It was the only competitive game Cal played all weekend, tying UCLA at 29, only to lose 32-30. Brown had seven of her 14 kills in that game. She also led the team with 12 digs in a losing effort.

Brown seemed to be the only offensive answer all weekend for the Bears, who are still struggling to define themselves without Jerkov.

Earlier in the week, coach Rich Feller said that the team had been working all week to find new ways to develop scoring opportunities without the Pac-10's leader in kills.

But after the weekend it seems that the Cal coach will have to go back to the ol' drawing board.  

"We are a strong enough team to play well without one person," Leffall said. "But we definitely have an advantage when Mia is on the court."

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