Bears Get Back on Winning Track at Home

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The No. 6 Cal volleyball team, as it does before every match, came up with goals before facing No. 7 Washington.

"I feel like we achieved all of them," senior setter Carli Lloyd 0said. "And that's a big deal because we make a lot of goals individually and as a team."

Whatever those secret goals were, the Bears came out with a fire that never wavered, dismantling the Huskies in straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-18).

It was the same old on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion. A top team entered pumped and left deflated, another group of players stepped onto the court bobbing their heads and stepped off shaking them.

"This team has no trouble getting up for an opponent that is like us," coach Rich Feller said. "We played very good defense. We set up a good block. I think we made them change some things they wanted to do."

Cal's stalwart defense stifled Washington's offense into a sub-.200 hitting percentage and edged the Huskies in both blocks (10) and digs (62) - a difficult thing to do, Feller said, particularly against a strong defensive team like Washington.

It looked to be a tight competition between two tough top-10 teams early on, as the squads traded points to open the first set. But with the score at 7-7, the Bears (17-1, 7-1 in the Pac-10) went on a six-point run to break open not only the opening set but also the entire match.

The Huskies (15-3, 4-3) caught up to Cal late in the first two sets, though, and even tied it up at 22 in the second frame. In both cases, the Bears called a timeout, regrouped and quickly won each set.

"(I was impressed by) the way when we got pushed near the end of those first two sets that we were able to hold on," Feller said. "Any time they pushed us, we pushed back a little harder. And come through with tight serving and good passing and hitting when we needed it."

Washington didn't push Cal after the break. A night after outscoring Washington State 50-23 in the third and fourth sets to defeat the Cougars (6-11, 0-7), the Bears once again did not trail after the half. Cal quelled any thought of a Washington comeback with eight of the first nine points of the set.

Outside hitter Tarah Murrey displayed her talents on both sides of the net with a double-double. She once again led all players in kills, with 19, good for a .311 hitting percentage, while finishing second on the team with 14 digs.

"I remember Carli was (saying), 'Lets play all out,'" Murrey said. "She kept saying, 'Lights out defense, lights out offense.'"

When the light turn back on Friday night, the Bears will be facing No. 2 Stanford for sole possession of first place at the mid-way mark in the Pac-10 season.


Jonathan Kuperberg covers volleyball. Contact him at [email protected]

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