Volleyball: Cal Stuns 'Cats But Can't Sweep In Arizona

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The Cal volleyball team has found a way to simultaneously exceed expectations and feel unaccomplished.

The Bears (12-4, 3-4 in the Pac-10) have already surpassed last year's win total and matched their three conference wins from 2001, but the way they've gone about it has left fans with the sense that things should be even better.

This quality was on full display this weekend in Arizona, when Cal scored its most impressive win of the year but came away feeling it only got the job half done.

The Bears blew a two games to none lead against No. 22 Arizona State, then came back with a resounding 3-0 victory over No. 20 Arizona.

"Sometimes we play really good, then other times we play really bad," freshman Jenna Brown said. "It is a problem that we are trying to fix."

The Bears' youth showed on Friday night as they let a victory against a top-25 opponent slip through their hands, falling to the Sun Devils (30-27, 30-21, 27-30, 26-30, 10-15).

"We should have won but we choked," junior Caity Noonan said. "We are a pretty young team and I think that some of our inexperience showed."

After playing increasingly close matches against powerhouses Stanford, UCLA and USC, Cal seemed to be on the verge of its first major upset, dominating the first two games.

Everything seemed to change after that.

"We couldn't get anything going," Brown said. "They started blocking us, and built confidence from there. The loss in momentum was a combination of us relaxing on the huge lead and them digging in refusing to lose at home."

The Bears lost the third game by three, and gradually lost control from there, losing the fourth game by four and really not putting up a fight in the fifth, 15-10.

"We can't let matches slip away like that, especially when we are trying to keep pace in the Pac-10," Noonan said.

The Bears came out on fire against the No. 20 Wildcats (8-7, 3-4).

Cal won in three straight games (32-30, 30-27, 31-29), instilling life and confidence back in to the team.

"We did not want to go home with two losses, that was our motivation," Brown said.

The victory against Arizona was the Bears' first win over a top 25 team in 13 tries.

"The disappointment in the desert turned into redemption, that was the word of the day for us," said Cal coach Rich Feller. "Every member of the team believed it."

Mia Jerkov and Noonan paced the Bears with 26 kills and 34 assists respectively, against the Wildcats.

"This shows how strong the Pac-10 is," Feller said. "Considering that Arizona had defeated defending national champion Stanford the night before, this also shows how good we can be."


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