Cal showed how to act like the #1 program in the nation last night, defeating #2 Stanfurd three sets to one at Haas Pavilion. Calbears.com has a nice recap here, more detailed and nuanced than this amateur volleyball appreciator can provide. Cal dropped the first set 23-25, after winning the previous thirty sets en route to a 10-0 record. The second set was all Cal, and the teams went into the break tied 1-1.
Cal trailed the third set 10-5 before getting down to business. Our bears went on a 20-6 run to close out the third and take command of the match. A 20-6 run is something you might expect against, say, Presbyterian. It is not something you expect against the number two team in the country.
Stanfurd led for most of the fourth set, but only by one or two. After Cal's massive comeback in the third, you could sense that the Cardinal were more clinging to their lead than playing with confidence. Sure enough, Cal took control with a 7-3 run to gain a 23-21 lead and closed out the match. Stanfurd took their final timeout in the midst of Cal's late run in an effort to stem the tide. When that didn't work, the Furd coach, out of timeouts, engaged in what appeared to be a bit of gamesmanship with the referee. They spoke for approximately 60 seconds before the match resumed, but Tarah Murrey was undaunted and Cal earned yet another point. Silly Furds, cheaters never prosper unless they're U$C.
To my eyes, this seemed like a total team effort from the bears. No one player dominated; Murrey, Adrienne Gehan, Shannon Hawari, Kat Brown, and Correy Johnson all contributed at the net both offensively and defensively, and Robin Rostratter was a maestro on defense, setting a career high with 29 digs. The bears had a few impressively powerful kills, but the team's greatest attribute seemed to be an uncanny ability to keep the volley alive and eventually force Stanfurd to crack. It was what you expect from the #1 team in the country - not a dominating performance, but a confident and convincing victory over a good but inferior opponent. If this Cal team is a python, the furd were definitely a rat last night, slowly but surely asphyxiated by Cal's relentless and smothering play.
After the jump, more domination of the furd in an area I know something about: the bands.The Cal student body put on an impressive display. Rally Comm, which usually comes off somewhere between uninspired and annoying to me, was exactly the opposite: a large, loud, and rowdy mass. At one point, they started chanting a furd player's name, who promptly served it out of bounds. Point, Rally Comm. The band was massive as well, looking about 70 strong with plenty of low brass. We sat directly in front of the women's basketball team, with all coaches in tow, who were amped up to watch fellow athletes. (Eliza Pierre started moshing after match point.) It was an energetic, loud, and slightly hostile crowd, perfect for the occasion.
As per custom, the Cal Band and Stanfurd clusterfuck of noise held a battle of the bands on Spieker Plaza. Cal's victory in volleyball was convincing - the victory in bands was dominating. Stanfurd really only has one song, set to different tunes. It's a white noise version of What is Hip; it's a white noise of I Wish; hey, it's a white noise version of We Want the Funk. The effect is one of boredom and slight annoyance, like a gnat that's not worth the effort to swat. It was summed up by two people: One was a Cal snare drummer, who slouched over his drum, with his elbow on the rim and his head in his hand during one of the furd's long white noise version of funk. He wasn't trying to insult stanfurd, he was just legitimately, extremely bored. The second was a furd dolly with the same look on her face, zoned-out with a dash of irritation. She actually stopped dancing at one point in the middle of the song, slowly adjusting her hair instead of trying to keep step with the drone of something resembling a drum line.
As much as the furd banned sucked the life out of the crowd and kept interrupting a perfectly good concert, the contrast between them and the Cal Band made me appreciate our side even more. The band was loud, together, and generally awesome. They played two of my favorites, Another Star and Lights (beer on me for the Student Director whenever I hear it). Even the Dance Team, about which I am often critical, was really on point, moving in unison, crisply. The night was a celebration of all things Cal, and a repudiation of all things Stanfurd. Cal showed the furd what it means to be a #1 program.