Volleyball Fights History in SoCal





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Despite the bad history, despite unfavorable odds, the Cal volleyball team is going to bring the same things to tonight's game that they always bring.

Hard work and a positive attitude.

The Cal volleyball team (9-7, 4-5 in the Pac-10) will be going south to Los Angeles to face No. 4 USC (14-1, 8-1 in the Pac-10) tonight and No. 8 UCLA (12-5, 7-2 in the Pac-10) tomorrow night. The last time these teams met, the Bears lost, 3-0, to the Trojans and fell, 3-1, to the Bruins.

"I think we're just going to put the past behind us," freshman Tess Zatica said. "We're just going to play Bear volleyball and look for a win.

A win against either of these teams will be hard considering the past history. Cal is 6-27 against USC and 0-39 against UCLA. The last time the Bears had a victory in Los Angeles against the Trojans was in 1986, and it was the only win the Cal has had in Los Angeles.

But the Bears have the attitude they'll need to stop the trend.

"We go into every game expecting to win," senior Alicia Perry said. "We don't look at past records. It's about what we bring to the court this time."

Perry leads the team this season in both kills and digs after adding 20 of each in last week's game against William and Mary.

Perry was also named the Pac-10 Player of the Week last week for her feat of tallying 44 kills and 44 digs against the Washington schools.

Also looking to lead the team will be Abernathy. Abernathy has been an amazing asset to the Bears, showing her skill at breaking through good blocking teams to get needed kills.

"I'm feeling confident right now," Abernathy said. "If we can play the way we played in Game 1 (against UCLA on Sept. 22) we can beat them and we won't give up the match."

Cal has only won a single game against UCLA this season due largely to the blocking strength of freshman middle blocker Heather Diers.

One of four freshman middle blockers who will play this weekend, Diers stood out against UCLA by tallying four block assists earlier in the season. She would have had more, but UCLA learned its lesson and stopped trying to hit through Diers' block, and instead went to other offensive options.

"I want to be just as dominant this weekend," Diers said. "Now I have a feel for the whole college game. Now I can play the other side and play up to everyone else's caliber."

The high caliber of play at USC is due to senior outside hitter Antoinette Polk. Polk led the Trojans last weekend with a strong defensive effort consisting of a team-high 19 digs in their loss to Arizona.

"That loss shows that they're capable of losing," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "They're good enough and young enough to discount it and look forward to their next game."

UCLA will be led by 5-foot-11 outside hitter Kristee Porter. Porter is coming off an amazing game last weekend against Arizona, where she posted an astounding 36 kills and 21 digs. But the Bears are ready for her aggressive play.

"As long as we stay positive and bring our 'A' game, we can beat these two teams," outside hitter Leah Young said. "It's just a matter of confidence. We're ready."

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