Cutura Shines for Bears in Two Weekend Wins

Photo: <b>Hana Cutura</b> (26) follows through on a spike during a victory against Arizona on Friday, when the outside hitter posted a career-high 31 kills. She finished the weekend with 52.
Nick Fradkin/Staff
Hana Cutura (26) follows through on a spike during a victory against Arizona on Friday, when the outside hitter posted a career-high 31 kills. She finished the weekend with 52.

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When the typically understated coach Rich Feller jumped up and smacked his clipboard in excitement, it was clear that the No. 15 Cal volleyball team was playing maybe its finest volleyball of the year.

An easy 3-0 sweep of Arizona State on Sunday at Haas Pavilion capped a dominating weekend, which saw the Bears drop only one set in two matches.

"We really set the tone for this homestand," Feller said. "We're playing really aggressively right now, and a lot of things are working really well for us. When we're in our system, we're pretty hard to stop."

Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura led the team with 21 kills and a .562 hitting percentage, finishing the best weekend that any Cal player has had this season. Cutura moved into third place on the program's career kills list with 1,736, moving ahead of former standout Angie Pressey.

"Right now I'm healthy, I don't want to jinx myself, but this season has been great so far regarding that," Cutura said. "This weekend, things came together and we played good. We played the best we've played so far."

With 52 kills on just four errors and a .600 hitting percentage in two matches this weekend, Cutura is almost sure to be named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, an honor she has never earned despite her illustrious Cal career.

"She was definitely very, very smooth," Feller said. "I sure hope she gets Player of the Week in the Pac-10 because she had some pretty unreal numbers. With (four) errors on the weekend in 60, 70-some swings, that's pretty good."

Cutura's play was only one impressive element of a very successful weekend for the team.

"We're getting better about learning teams faster," Feller said. "When you see a team on tape, it's flat. There isn't that other dimension that you see when you are on the court. You can really see that with our blocking."

Both Feller and the players raved about an effective week of practice, and it showed with noticeable improvements in team defense. Only two weeks removed from a game against Washington in which Cal managed one block, the Bears (12-7, 5-4 in the Pac-10) combined for 20 team blocks against the Wildcats and Sun Devils.

The streakiness that has both plagued and aided Cal all season was present in both matches this weekend. Down 14-7 in the first set on Friday, the Bears rallied 18-5 to set the tone in their victory over Arizona. Down 11-10 in the third set on Sunday, Cal pieced together an astonishing 15-2 run to close the match.

"When we're on good runs of points, everyone is in tune with the game," setter Carli Lloyd said. "That should always happen. But when we don't do that, it's a matter of some people not being mentally engaged and if they don't do their job, the rest of us have a hard time doing ours ... It was key to be mentally engaged."

Contact Gabriel Baumgaertner at [email protected]

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