One more win.
Cal started hot and didn't let up, beating the Trojans in straight sets 25-14, 25-17, 25-20. Thanks to their impressive defense and an incredible hitting run by Tarah Murrey and Adrienne Gehan, the Golden Bears are heading to the title game to face a familiar foe.
A balanced attack led Cal to victory in the first set, as they took an early 11-2 lead and never were threatened after that. Carli Lloyd ended up with 10 assists, Shannon Hawari and Kat Brown had three and two kills each, and took advantage of the sloppy attacking of USC. In the second and third sets, Murrey and Gehan turned up the jets--the two combined for 33 of Cal's 38 kills (Murrey 21, Gehan 12) in the final two sets. Lloyd rode the hot hands and notched up another 30 assists to finish with 40 in all.
But what was real impressive was the digging and blocking by the Bears to keep the Trojans outside hitting from getting going. USC, one of the best outside hitting teams in the nation, got no more than eight kills from any one of their players and looked a little off their game. Alex Jupiter managed eight kills for a .182 attack percentage; freshman phenom Falyn Fonoimoana could never get on track, ending up with almost double the amount of attack errors as actual kills and finishing with a negative attack percentage. USC hit 0.107 for the game, Cal 0.297. The Bears had 60 digs in all, with 16 from Lloyd, 14 from Murrey, 12 from Robin Rostratter, 7 from Meagan Schmitt to lead the way) and added ten blocks for good measure.
Cal will now draw Penn State in the title game; it'll be televised live at 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET on ESPN2. The Nittany Lions have won the last three national championships and have eliminated the Golden Bears each of those three years. Can Cal finally reverse history and can Lloyd and Murrey reach the goal they set for themselves this offseason?
One more win. GO BEARS!
Time: 6 PM PT/9 PM ET
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Location: Kansas City
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Additional articles: Tarah Murrey feature from ESPN (HT gogogoldenbears), Okanes feature on Lloyd and Murrey, Rich Feller is the AVCA National Coach of the Year, Lloyd and Murrey are AVCA All-Americans, Robin Rostratter wins the NCAA Elite 88 Award for academic and athletic merit.
Cal is two wins away from their first national championship in program history. But to get to the title, they must go through the team that's had their number all season, the USC Trojans. USC swept Cal in the season series, staving off a couple of match points to beat the Bears in LA in five, and then winning three sets to one in Berkeley. Can the Bears overcome the height of the Trojan hitters? Here's a great story courtesy of the Chronicle concerning the team's chemistry, especially between the two team leaders.
Here's a great story courtesy of the Chronicle concerning the team's chemistry, especially between the two team leaders.