Volleyball Nets Weekend Sweep

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This weekend the Cal volleyball team brought out the brooms and swept two matches against the Pac-10 doormats.

The Bears were dominant. They played up to their potential. But, most importantly, they were fired up from the get-go.

Cal (8-6, 4-4 in the Pac-10) swept the Washington schools this weekend, beating Washington State 3-0 (16-14, 15-7, 15-7) Saturday and Washington 3-1 Friday night. It was the first three-game sweep of WSU since 1990.

"I think we really wanted the sweep," senior Alicia Perry said. "We came out prepared and had a lot of energy. We did what we had to do to win."

Perry led the Bears against the Cougars (10-6, 1-6 in the Pac-10) with a team-high 18 kills and also added 14 digs. Her performance was very consistent, resulting in a .310 hitting percentage.

Also leading the Bears was Freshman sensation Gabrielle Abernathy. Abernathy was unstoppable as she tallied 14 kills and led the charge at the end of the first game that brought Cal back from a 9-14 deficit and take the game 16-14.

The freshman outside hitter used a variety of kills including sharp hits down the line and powerful shots to the middle of the floor to abuse the Cougars' defense and go straight through almost every block she faced.

"Tonight was good," Abernathy said. "I played well. We were hyped from the beginning. That was our goal."

Abernathy's success was due in part to the impressive setting of sophomore Caity Noonan. Noonan filled in for Candace McNamee, who sprained her ankle the night before.

Noonan helped the Bears by adding 44 assists and 2 kills, one of them a monstrous hit to finish Game 2 with a score of 15-7.

"Caity did a great job setting," Perry said. "She really helped us all. We pulled together more and rallied around her."

Another powerful force for the Bears was the addition of freshman Heather Diers to the lineup. At 6-foot-2, Diers has managed to make her presence felt in the Pac-10. Her consistent blocking forced the Cougars to either hit away from her block or tip over it almost every play.

"I like that," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "I like the fact that Heather made them change their offense."

Friday night, the Bears beat down the Huskies (4-9, 0-6 in the Pac-10) 3-1 (14-16, 15-9, 15-13, 15-5) in an intense game in the Recreational Sports Facility Field House.

The emotions were high partly due to the close first game, but mostly due to an ankle injury sustained by Cal's starting setter, McNamee.

Cal blew a 14-11 lead in the first game due to several blocking errors, and the Washington came back with five unanswered points to end the game 14-16.

The Bears came out in the second game with a vengeance until the officials called for a stoppage of play at 7-4. McNamee had rolled her ankle and fell under the net, causing play to cease and the Field House to fall deathly silent.

"I was so nervous," sophomore Reena Pardiwala said. "I knew Caity could step up and play, but I was really worried about Candace."

McNamee's injury is listed as a sprain, and whether she plays in Tuesday's game will be a game-time decision.

The Washington game marked several milestones for the Bears. Abernathy led the Bears with 29 kills, Perry had 30 digs, and Noonan tallied 54 assists, all three of which were career highs. Perry's 30 digs ties her for third in school history for single-match digs.


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