No. 6 California Denied 20th Win by Arizona

11/7/2008

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TUCSON, Ariz. - The No. 6-ranked California volleyball team (19-4, 9-3 Pac-10) fell in a five-set loss (25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11) to an unranked Arizona team (14-9, 4-7 Pac-10) today at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. to lose two-straight matches for just the first time this season. Despite senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon's career-high 20 kills (4e, 41att, .390), the Golden Bears were denied their 20th victory of the season by a Wildcat attack that had 62 kills on 160 attacks (26e, .225).

The Bears attacked at a .268 rate, getting 69 kills on 164 attempts with 25 errors and out-blocked the Wildcats, 13.0-12.5, but were unable to get out of their own way as they recorded a season-high 17 service errors. Junior outside hitter Hana Cutura led all players with 23 kills (3e, 54att, .370) and enjoyed her eighth double-double of the season by adding 10 digs. Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey had an efficient night, getting 14 kills on 28 attacks (6e, .286) and added five digs of her own. Junior libero Kristen Kathan had a match-high 22 digs and registered one of the Bears' six service aces. Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd had four kills on eight attacks without an error and led all players with 57 assists, adding nine digs. Arizona sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Owens had many crucial kills as she led her team with 17 (4e, 51att, .255), also leading the Cats in digs with 19. Owens' fellow second-year outside Whitney Dosty was right behind her with 15 kills (6e, 35att, .257).

The Bears were unable to overcome an Arizona attack that claimed four kills over the last five points to win the fifth set 15-11. Cal got out to a 4-1 lead but surrendered a tie at seven all when junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley had her attack blocked by the Wildcat middles. A kill by Arizona senior opposite Randy Goodenough gave the Cats their first lead of the set at 8-7. The home team never trailed again, eventually notching set-point as a Cal block went out of bounds at 14-9. The Cats completed the set by sending a shot off the Cal block again, ending the Bears' hopes for a two-set comeback win. The Bears had seven kills (3e, 26att, .154) in the fifth while the Cats put up 12 kills (4e, 27att, .296).

Solomon's 18th kill of the night sent the match to a fifth and final set as the Bears logged 17 kills in the fourth (4e, 37att) and attacked at a .351 rate. Cal never trailed in the set despite falling prey to an Arizona comeback that closed with the Cats hitting .263 (15k, 5e, 38att). The Bears jumped out to a 7-1 lead with the only Arizona point coming off a Cal error and led by as many as seven points (11-4) when sophomore defensive specialist Meagan Schmitt logged her career-high third service ace of the night. The Wildcats mounted a comeback with the Bears up 20-15 but Cal weathered the storm to come out on top, 25-23.

The Bears took three leads in the third set, the last of which came off a long serve by Goodenough. Up 5-4, Cal played to hold the lead the rest of the way. The Cats came within one point at 12-11, 13-12 and 14-13 but three straight kills (two by Cutura) helped the Bears pull out to a four-point advantage at 17-13. Solomon knocked a ball through the Arizona block to give the Bears a 23-18 lead before Cutura's tip-kill gave Cal set point at 24-18. Cutura teamed up with Wiley to knock down the Arizona attack and get Cal on the board, trailing 2-1. The Bears notched 17 kills in the third set with just four errors (32att, .406). The Wildcats also had just four errors but managed just nine kills on 29 attacks (.172).

Much like in the first set, one team had the 23-22 lead in the second set; this time it was Cal. However, the Bears were unable to turn the lead into a win as they gave up the final three points of round two to enter the break with a 2-0 deficit. The Bears got out to a 5-2 lead with every point coming from kills (three by Solomon, two by Murrey) but allowed the Cats to catch up and knot things up at five all. Cal took the lead seven more times but could not capitalize as it committed six service errors in the set. The Bears recorded 16 kills (5e, 39att, .282) to the Cats to 14 kills (6e, 35att, .229) despite losing the set.

The Wildcats opened up a four-point lead to get the first set started and never looked back. The Bears were able to climb within one point on several occasions. Lloyd's dunk kill drew Cal to within one at 22-21; and Cutura's kill on a set in the middle from Lloyd held the Cats at bay at 23-22. Owens gave the Wildcats set point with a kill to make the score 24-23 before an attack error by Murrey sealed the Bears' first-set fate. Each team had 12 kills in the first set; Cal logged nine errors (30att, .100) while Arizona had seven (31att, .161).

The Bears travel down the interstate to face Arizona State (12-12, 3-8 Pac-10) in a 7 p.m. match at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe Ariz. tomorrow (Nov. 8). The Sun Devils fell in three sets to No. 2 Stanford tonight. Live statistics via Gametracker and video (fee may apply) are available at www.thesundevils.com.

Article courtesy of California athletics.

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