It was hardly pretty, but the Cal women's volleyball team gutted out a three set sweep of Minnesota, winning 26-24, 25-23, 25-23. Cal advances to their fourth regional final in four years.
What most typified the victory for the Golden Bears was a dramatic second set rally; trailing 23-18 and seemingly headed to a 1-1 set draw going into the intermission, Cal racked up seven straight points, winning the set and taking control of the match.
Despite a poor passing night and strong Minnesota defense, Cal eventually exploited the Gophers by excellent distribution among the attackers. With Minnesota selling out to stop Tarah Murrey (a modest but low 10 kills for a .184 attack percentage), the rest of the Golden Bears stepped up, particularly Adrienne Gehan (10 kills, .364 attack percentage), Correy Johnson (9 kills, .438 attack percentage), Kat Brown (8 kills, .533 attack percentage), and Shannon Hawari (8 kills, .350 attack percentage). Murrey did most of her damage from the backline, and also was the server during that crucial 7-0 run. Carli Lloyd provided her usual 39 assists. On defense, Robin Rostratter had 17 digs, Meagan Schmitt added 9, Lloyd had 7 and Murrey added 5 more.
Cal overcame strong defense by Jessica Granquist (21 digs) and a strong attacking game by freshman Ashley Wittman (14 kills) by serving the ball right at Wittman for the final part of the second set and most of the third. It was not your typical three-set sweep, but the Bears survive and they'll have a chance to play in the Final Four tomorrow night.
Cal will play tomorrow night at 8:30 PM PT/11:30 PM ET against the Washington/Nebraska winner. The match will be televised on ESPNU. Hope to see you here tomorrow! GO BEARS!
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Cal enters the group of death featuring a top-notch Nebraska squad, a Washington team playing at home...and a feisty Minnesota team that should give them everything they can handle tonight. More on the Gophers from CalBears.com.
The Gophers secured second place in the Big Ten thanks to the accuracy of Mia Tabberson. The sophomore setter averages 10.66 apsand has logged 49 kills this season. Senior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer leads the team in hitting (.373, 3.23 kps) and blocks (1.41 bps) while freshman outside hitter Ashley Whiteman (3.40 kps) and sophomore outside Tabitha Love (3.43 kps) carry the rest of the offensive load for the Gophers. Junior libero Jessica Granquist leads the team in digs (5.13 dps) and is one of six Minnesota players to have reached double digits in service aces this season.
Cal continues to play well themselves.
The Bears hold several distinguished statistical positions nationally. The Bears are third in the country in hitting percentage (.311) and in blocks (3.06 bps), and seventh in assists (13.72 aps) and kills (14.58 kps). Among nationally notable individuals, junior outside hitter Tarah Murrey ranks third in kills (5.22 kps) and fourth in points (5.81 pps). Sophomore middle hitter Shannon Hawari is third in the nation in hitting percentage (.429). Senior setter Carli Lloyd ranks 12th in assists (11.74 aps) and sophomore middle Kat Brown is 13th in blocks (1.37 bps).
Should be a good one! Check out some North Carolina highlights after the jump! GO BEARS!
Cal Volleyball 2010 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament against UNC 12/4/2010 by David Makki (via MrDMakki)