Volleyball: Ducks, Beavers Try to Revenge Bears' Sweep

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The typical college student hits the snooze button about three or four times before actually getting up for the day.

The Cal women's volleyball team will not have that luxury as it begins the stretch-run towards postseason play.

After a rigorous first half of the Pac-10 schedule, topped off by a huge victory against then-No. 17 WSU, the Bears (14-5, 4-5) were almost caught sleepwalking on Tuesday night, pulling out a 3-2 victory over St. Mary's that was too close for comfort.

"We were not mentally ready to play this game," Alicia Powers said after Tuesday night's game.

But now Cal has its wake up call. The Bears will try to repeat their performances of four weeks ago, when they swept a weekend series of the Oregon schools.

Oregon State (6-12, 1-8) comes to town struggling with a five match losing streak, but Cal says it has learned the lesson about taking opponents lightly.

The Beavers played tough when the Bears visited Corvallis last month, and Cal coach Rich Feller expects the same amount of effort from OSU this time around.

"I expect to get a battle from both (Oregon) teams," Feller said. "OSU plays some intense defense that we have to be ready for."

Oregon's fate this season hasn't been any better than its cross-state rival's. Saturday the Ducks (10-13, 0-9) come knocking on the Haas Pavilion door as the cellar dwellers in the Pac-10.

In search of its first conference win in 31 matches, Oregon is led by senior middle blocker Lindsay Closs, who has 305 kills on the season.

"Oregon played us tough as well," Feller said. "When playing the Ducks we will have to deal with a lot of motion in their offense."

The Bears have a combined 61-27 record against the Oregon schools, but as they learned recently the past does not guarantee success in the present.

"History is not doomed or forecasted to repeat itself," Feller said.

Another thing Cal has been learning is defense, especially with the emergence of 6-foot-2 junior Heather Diers in the middle.

In the win over St. Mary's, Diers lead the team with 11 total blocks, pacing the Bears to a school record 40 total blocks.

"Heather is a big part of our blocking system," Feller said. "She can make a real difference out there for us. The last time we played Oregon she played the whole game very well."

The Cal offense should be a lot better with the return of Mia Jerkov, who missed the St. Mary's game with a sprained ankle. The 6-foot-3 sophomore leads the Pac-10 with 406 kills and 452 total points.

This weekend, the Bears can clinch their highest win total since 1991 (15-15).

Cal should be able to sweep the series, as long as it stays awake.


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