Cal Has Weekend of Highs and Lows

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Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to bounce back up to the top.

For the Cal volleyball team, that meant playing your worst game to find the motivation to play your best.

The Bears (11-3, 2-3 in the Pac-10) did both these things this weekend, but ended up with two losses to show for it.

Cal came back from a disappointing effort against No. 13 UCLA to nearly upset top-ranked USC Saturday, but was unable to end its long losing streaks against either L.A. rival.

After placing a lot of attention last week on preparations for UCLA, the Bears left something to be desired Friday night, losing to the No. 13 UCLA Bruins (10-6, 3-3) three games to one.

Alicia Powers said the Bears would have, "a lot of excitement in their legs and adrenaline pumping in their veins," during the UCLA game, and for most of the first two games, they did.

But somewhere down the line the Bears forgot that you must win three games to be victorious in volleyball.

Cal came out at a furious pace, riding the adrenaline rush of a possible upset.

In the first game the Bears led 29-23 and seemed to be poised for another big victory, but an 8-0 run gave the Bruins the first game.

Cal took the second game 30-26, but wilted as UCLA won the next two easily to take the match 31-29, 26-30, 30-21, 30-23.

"We may have came out a little tight in the first match," said Leah Young." We just did not play well in all."

The Bears are now 0-43 against the Bruins lifetime.

But sometime between Friday night and 7 p.m. Saturday, Cal found its swagger and came to play against the Trojans (11-0, 5-0), who came into the match fresh off of manhandling Stanford the night before.

"After Friday night's game we were really upset," Leah Young said. "A lot of people came out to watch us play and we disappointed them. This gave us motivation for the second game."

A disappointing performance against UCLA placed more emphasis on USC.

The Bears proved they were not intimidated by the Trojans' ranking or their 20-game winning streak in the series, playing arguably their best match of the season less than 24 hours after their worst showing of the year.

"There was no pressure before the game against USC," Young said. "We knew how good they were and went into the game very free, as the Trojans had all the pressure on them."

Cal gave the Trojans their toughest match of the year, taking them to the wire in Haas Pavilion (20-30, 30-28, 30-24, 20-30, 15-13) before falling in defeat.

In the fifth and deciding game, the Bears held leads of 11-9 and 12-11, before USC took four of the next five points to snatch victory.

"This was very gratifying going five games with the No. 1 team in the country, and to have an opportunity to outscore them in the match" Cal coach Rich Feller said. "I am proud of this team."

Career highs by Mia Jerkov and Jenna Brown, who had 32 and 21 kills, respectively, kept the match close, but it was no cigar in the end.

The Bears leave the weekend with two notches in the "L" column but said they are encouraged by their performance against the nation's best.

It was certainly an improvement over last season's showings against the SoCal duo, when the Bears failed to win a single game in their four matches.

"It showed us that there is no one we can't beat," added Young. "We may have lost the game but we did not lose our confidence or momentum going into Arizona."


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