No. 7 California Falls to No. 8 Oregon in Regular Season Finale

11/28/2008

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EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 7-ranked California volleyball team (23-6, 13-5 Pac-10) absorbed its sixth loss of the season today as it fell, 3-1 (25-20, 25-27, 25-17, 26-24) to No. 8 Oregon (23-8, 11-7 Pac-10) at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. With a 23-6 overall record, the Golden Bears are poised to receive their school-record seventh consecutive bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships.

Junior outside hitter Hana Cutura paced Cal with 19 kills (9e, 54att, .185) while junior libero Kristen Kathan set a new career mark by posting 31 digs to lead all players. The last member of the junior class, middle hitter Mindi Wiley trailed Cutura by posting 13 kills with just one error on 21 attempts to put up a .571 attack rate. She also led all players by matching her career high in blocks with eight. Oregon was led by outside hitter Gorana Maricic, who had 20 kills and attacked at a .304 rate (6e, 46att) while adding five blocks (2 solo).

Down big in the fourth set, Cal made another gritty comeback and fought off one match point, but eventually fell 26-24. The Bears were forced into nine errors on 44 fourth-set attacks (15k) and attacked at a .136 rate. The Ducks managed just 11 kills with six errors (38att) and attacked at a .132 rate but capitalized on all of Cal's errors to walk away with the victory.

Cal found itself in a third-set hole to the Ducks, but could not recover for a comeback, falling 25-17. Oregon held a slim 8-6 lead before pulling away with a 9-3 run to take a 17-9 lead after a kill by Maricic. The Bears closed the gap to 22-16 after sophomore setter Carli Lloyd threw in a service ace, but it was as close as they would get as Oregon used a 3-1 run to win the stanza. Cal posted 13 kills in the third set (7e, 32att) and attacked at a .188 rate but the Bears were scorched by the hot-hitting Ducks, who claimed 14 kills on 33 attacks with just two errors to attack at a .364 rate.

Down 18-10 and with the crowd behind the home team, Cal made an incredible comeback to take the second set, 27-25 to even the match at one set all. The Bears began to chip away at the Oregon lead with back-to-back-to-back kills by Cutura, freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari and Cutura again to make it 18-13. The Ducks took a 20-15 lead after kill by middle blocker Neticia Enesi, before the Bears answered with a 5-0 run. Wiley evened the score at 20-all with a kill but Oregon came right back and tallied the next two points to take a 22-20 lead before a 3-0 Cal run gave the Bears a 23-22 advantage. A kill by senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck gave Cal set point at 24-23, but Oregon rallied and claimed set point at 25-24 after a service ace. Cal refused to quit and tied the score at 25-all after a Cutura kill. Back-to-back blocks by the Bears gave them the win. Cal was able to claw back for the second-set win by holding Oregon to a .135 attack percentage, allowing 15 kills and forcing eight errors on 52 attacks. Cal attacked at a .191 rate in the second, getting 16 kills on 47 attacks (7e).

The Bears controlled much of the first set and claimed leads of 12-8 and 14-11; the latter after a kill by senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon. But the Ducks stormed back and evened the score at 14-all courtesy of a kill by Enesi. Cal held its final lead at 19-17 after an Oregon attack error before the Ducks went on an 8-1 run to close out the frame. Cal committed five attack errors and was out-dug 18-9 by the Ducks. Although Cal attacked at a .205 rate in the first set (13k, 5e, 39att), it could not keep pace with the 17 kills the Ducks logged (6e, 38att) to register a .261 attack percentage.

With the conclusion of the regular season, the Bears are poised to make their seventh straight postseason run with their seventh-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. Selections and brackets will be announced live on the ESPNU selection show on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. PT. Please check your local listings.

Last year, the Bears advanced to the NCAA championship semifinal where they fell to eventual champion, Penn State. The appearance in the semifinal match was the furthest a Cal squad has ever advanced. Cutura was named the most valuable player of the Wisconsin regional tournament as the Bears defeated Iowa State to advance past the round of 16 for the first time in program history before taking out defending champion Nebraska.

Article courtesy of California athletics.

 

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