Freshman Fits Feller's Winning Formula

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Some Cal students forget all about math as soon as they're out of high school. (Social welfare majors, I'm looking at you).

But for freshman Jenna Brown (undeclared) of the Cal volleyball team, it's addition and subtraction that has brought her to the forefront.

Brown has been a key variable in the Bears' hot start to the season, and they will need her presence in this weekend's slate.

Cal (11-3, 2-3 in the Pac-10) goes on the road for a pair of meetings with nationally ranked opponents, taking on No. 22 Arizona State (7-3, 3-2) tomorrow and No. 20 Arizona (7-6, 2-3) Saturday.

"Both teams are very good, but different," said Coach Feller. "ASU is a very fast team whose strength is defense and motion. U of A boasts the No. 1 freshmen class in the country so they are very talented but young, which leads to mistakes."

The Bears are 10-26 all-time against the Sun Devils and an even worse 6-28 against the Wildcats, but have looked like a different team this year, in large part thanks to the efforts of newcomers like Brown and Alicia Powers.

"It is a team sport, but Jenna has done fine job," Feller said. "We put a freshman in a central position and she is coming through in all aspects."

Overshadowed by the buzz around highly recruited Powers, and playing behind of one of the Bears' top returners, Gabrielle Abernathy, it seemed as if it would be a quiet season for Brown.

Days before Cal's opener, Abernathy was ruled academically ineligible for the season, and Brown was thrust into the lineup.

"I feel like I have to go out there everyday and prove my worth to the rest of the team," Brown said. "I have a lot of pressure on me to step up, because Gabrielle is such a good player."

Brown's accomplishments are all the more impressive considering she is playing out of position.

"I am used to playing right side because I am left handed," explained Brown. "But I have been inserted on the other side which produces more difficult angles for me but I have been able to manage." 

Like a lefty playing shortstop, it seemed to be something that just wouldn't work, but Brown has trhived in the role.

Last weekend, the Bears lost both matches at Haas Pavilion against No. 13 UCLA and No. 1 USC.

Both losses overshadowed Brown's individual achievements, as well as the team's accomplishments.

The Bears took the top-ranked Trojans to the wire before losing, 3-2. It was the first time Cal had won a game against USC since 1998 and the first time the Bears had won two games against the Trojans since a 3-2 loss in 1993.

Going into another pair of matches against ranked opponents, Brown and the rest of her team will look to erase the memories of the losses and attempt to come out of this highly competitve weekend with some wins.

"After we played USC, I thought we may come out to practice this week down, but it was the opposite," Brown said. "We had a good week of preparation and I think we are ready to get back into the win column."


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