Bears' Postseason Hopes Still Alive

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Seventy-seven kills, 42 digs-not a bad total for the average volleyball player for a month's worth of play.

For Mia Jerkov, it was just another weekend in mid-October.

The last time the Cal volleyball team faced Washington and Washington State, Jerkov had a career weekend, which led to her receiving National Player of the Week honors.

The Bears (16-9, 6-9 in the Pac-10) will need a repeat performance from their All-America candidate to hold on to hopes of the postseason.

Making the tournament will be an uphill battle for Cal, which finishes the Pac-10 schedule with three ranked teams in a row, starting this weekend with No. 17 Washington State and No. 22 Washington.

"We are going to Washington this weekend, which is the toughest trip for any team every year," Feller said.

The Bears feel confident about their chances, however. They have already beaten three ranked opponents this year and seem to be getting back to form.

"We feel really good right now," said captain Caity Noonan. "It is nice to be playing well."

With the return of a healthy Jerkov, Cal began clicking on all cylinders last weekend in a much-needed win versus then-No. 23 Arizona State.

"We played well," Jerkov said after the game. "I need my teammates and my teammates need me. When we play together we'll win."

History may not agree. Cal has lost 12 straight matches in Pullman dating back to 1989.

The Bears, however, won the last meeting against WSU, an upset victory at Haas Pavilion earlier this season.

In that match, Cal was paced by Jerkov's 38 kills. The sophomore

single-handedly held off the athletic Cougars in a thrilling 3-2 victory.

Adrian Hankoff and Holly Harris had 15 kills apiece for WSU, but struggled to reach that total, with hitting percentages of .255 and .220 respectively. The Bears must continue to hold the tandem at a low percentage to insure a victory.

The next day Cal has to pack up its things and venture across state to the coast, where it will face Washington in Seattle.

"On no other trip do we have to travel and play on the same day," Feller said. "It will be a true test for us."

The Bears will have to contend with unpleasant travel arrangements and a potent one-two punch in the Huskies' Sanja Tomasevic and Paige Benjamin.

In the last meeting, the Bears held a 2-1 lead until the duo took over, compiling the bulk of their kills in the final two frames to upend the Bears 3-2.

In that match Tomasevic and Benjamin combined for 42 kills, spoiling a career night for Jerkov, who finished the night with a school-record 39 kills.

A repeat performance by Jerkov will go a long way in helping the Bears tournament hopes.


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