Cal Set to Sample Ducks in Pac-10 Battle of Unbeatens

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Tuesday felt like a Monday for the Cal volleyball team.

After a 3-0 victory at Arizona State on Sunday afternoon, the No. 8 Bears took Monday off. They began their practices this week on Tuesday, which included the weightlifting regimen typically reserved for Mondays and Wednesdays.

"It was definitely different," sophomore middle hitter Kat Brown said. "I kind of had a harder time getting into the practice routine."

Cal hopes to get its internal calendars in sync by the end of the week. The Bears take on No. 11 Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion, their first home match of the Pac-10 season.

Preparation, though condensed into three days, will be crucial for Cal (12-0, 2-0 in the Pac-10) in the battle of these two undefeated teams. The Ducks (14-0, 2-0) are coming off a 3-1 upset of a perennial Pac-10 power in then-No. 7 Washington.

Coach Rich Feller's squad is riding some momentum of its own following a five-set comeback win at Arizona last Friday and a sweep of Arizona State on Sunday.

In their consequential victories last weekend, Cal and Oregon each defeated a team slotted to finish ahead of them in the Pac-10, proving the high level of competition within the conference.

"Now we're picked ahead of Oregon, so they're out to do it again," Feller said. "I think Oregon's going to bring as much as anything we've seen this year and probably a lot more."

Key to Oregon's success thus far has been remarkable serving, an area of the game the Bears have struggled with this season. The Ducks sit atop the Pac-10 with an average of 2.20 aces per set behind senior outside hitter Heather Meyers' 38 aces this season, which leads the Pac-10 and is good for second in the nation.

With such power from the service line, Cal must counter with solid performances from its back row.

"We're definitely going to have to work on getting really good passes each time on serve-receive so we have a lot of options for our offense," Brown said.

That offense is the best in the league with senior setter Carli Lloyd running an attack that has hit for .347 this season. The go-to attacker, junior outside hitter Tarah Murrey, is coming off a career-best 28 kills in the win over Arizona. The El Cerrito, Calif., native tacked on another 20 against Arizona State, and committed only eight attack errors over the weekend.

Options do not exclusively run through the outside. From quick sets on slides to the middle hitters as well as opposite-side looks for sophomore Correy Johnson, Lloyd can choose from many weapons and locations on the court.

Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shannon Hawari is tops in the nation with a .488 hitting percentage.

Added sophomore libero Robin Rostratter: "It starts with a pass, and as long as we keep our momentum going, we're unstoppable."


Christina Jones covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]

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