Fighting Off Tears to Tear Apart Stanford


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Carli Lloyd couldn't celebrate after the Cal volleyball team's triumph over Stanford on Friday night.

The senior setter limped gingerly off the Haas Pavilion court with trainer Linda Smith almost immediately following the Bears' four-set win. After dishing out 56 assists to five teammates, Lloyd needed Smith to assist her after cramping up during the match.

"It was kind of like a baseball, the bottom part of my quad right above my knee," Lloyd said, "it was like in a ball when I left the court. I had to get worked on and everything."

Even with the pain in her legs, Lloyd, the engine in Cal's prolific offensive machine, played the entire match.

Lloyd is emblematic of the Bears' will to win every point. As the senior leader and the setter in a new fast-paced offensive scheme, she has been the catalyst to Cal's program-best 14 conference wins and has willed the Bears to within two wins of their first ever Pac-10 championship.

"I think it was probably inspiring to everyone else that she's willing to push through the pain and finish the game." coach Rich Feller said. "It is the way we play."

But the Fallbrook High product almost didn't finish the match. She started cramping up during the second set, but it worsened in the fourth.

Her body - so accustomed to gliding across the court to set, soaring in the air to block and diving on the floor to dig - was betraying her in one of the biggest regular season matches in Cal volleyball history.

Playing through the pain - that was something Lloyd could handle. That's nothing compared to the pain she would have felt if forced to leave the court, unable to lead her team to victory.

So despite the cramps, first in her quads, then her calves and then her hamstrings, she kept playing - leaping to new heights and taking Cal with her.

Finally, though, Lloyd felt like she reached her breaking point.

"Those last three points ... I felt like it was the first time ever that I was like, 'I might need to come out. I'm hurting bad,'" Lloyd said. "But there was only two points left, so I was like, 'Just stick it out, Carli.'"

Somehow, someway, the All-American continued to deliver, even when Stanford seemed to be going at her.

"They saw me bending over and holding my quad, that I was struggling a little bit," she said. "I felt semi they were (hitting to my side) because they knew that I was hurt and that I wasn't getting up as high anymore."

Nevertheless, she teamed up with middle hitter Kat Brown to reject Stanford star Alix Klineman. The block, Lloyd's fourth, set up match point. Following a service error, she set a perfect ball to Tarah Murrey for the final point.

That also might have been the final point for Lloyd's legs.

The ice bath was not exactly a champagne shower, but after the monumental win, it sure tasted sweet.


Take an ice bath with Jonathan at [email protected]

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