No. 14 USC Snaps No. 4 Cal Volleyball Winning Streak in Five-Set Thriller

10/25/2008

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The No. 4-ranked California volleyball team (18-2, 8-1 Pac-10) fell in five sets (25-22, 16-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-13) to No. 14 USC (11-7, 4-5 Pac-10) tonight at Galen Center, snapping a 13-match winning streak. The Golden Bears matched the Women of Troy with a .266 attack percentage but earned 76 kills (31e, 169att) to USC's 59 (17e, 158att) but were unable to come away with the victory. Cal was led by junior outside hitter Hana Cutura, who had 20 kills (12e, 58att, .138) and freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari, who recorded a career-high 15 kills with just three errors on 22 attacks (.545) but the Trojans out-blocked the Bears 18.0-5.0 to earn the 3-2 win.

Cutura had her seventh double-double of the season as she added 17 digs to her stat line but it was junior libero Kristen Kathan who led all players once again by putting up 22 balls. Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd logged her fifth double-double of the season with 59 assists and 14 digs while adding six kills. Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon once again put up impressive numbers, getting 16 kills with just two errors on 32 attacks (.438). USC redshirt junior Jessica Gysin led the Trojans with 18 kills (4e, 48att, .292) while redshirt freshman Lauren Williams had eight blocks for the Women of Troy.

With the fifth set enduring nine tied scores, Cal pulled out to a 10-8 advantage when Cutura knocked down an overplayed ball. The Bears squandered a three-point lead after being up 12-9 when USC's Williams won the Texas vs. Texas matchup and put the solo block on Hawari. The Women of Troy claimed the fifth and final lead change of the set when sophomore outside hitter Kimmee Roleder put a kill shot through the Cal block. Roleder got up for a second kill to put USC up 14-12 at match point. The Bears were able to fight off the first match point as freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey rose up from the back row to earn a kill but USC's Williams dropped a kill to the middle of the Cal court to end the match. The Bears had a hard time hitting around the USC block, getting nine kills with five errors (26att, .154) in the fifth set while the Trojans had eight kills (2e, 24att, .250).

Up 13-11 in the fourth set, the Bears surrendered a kill to USC freshman outside hitter Alex Jupiter before committing four consecutive errors to give up a 16-13 lead. A USC service error stopped the bleeding, but only temporarily as the Trojans continued to press at the net. Cal was able to pull within three points on several occasions but a Gysin kill put the Women of Troy up 24-19 at set point. Lloyd's serve into the net effectively ended any chances of a Cal comeback as the teams headed to a fifth and deciding set. USC racked up eight total team blocks in the set to hold the Bears to a dismal .024 hitting percentage (14k, 13e, 42att) and posted a .265 rate of its own with 10 kills (1e, 34att).

After a long third-set rally, Cutura put a shot off the USC block to earn Cal's first set point at 24-16. The Bears gave up one more point but Lloyd and Hawari teamed up on a slide play to give Cal the 2-1 set lead. A Cutura kill put Cal up 11-10 and the Bears never looked back, staking as large a lead as eight points. The Trojans hit .303 in the third, getting 14 kills on 33 attacks (4e) but were scorched by Cal's hot hitting as the Bears tacked up a .630 attack percentage with 19 kills and just two errors on 27 attacks.

The Bears and Trojans traded points 12 times to begin the second set before Cal seized the lead for good. Three kills by Solomon forced a USC timeout with the Bears up 9-6. Cal's defense at the net forced the Trojans into enough errors to help push the Bears out to a nine-point lead at 23-14. Solomon's kill set the Bears up with their first set point with nine to use. Cal only needed two though, as USC junior setter Taylor Carico's ball-handling error ended the second set, 25-16. The Bears hit .333 with 17 kills in the second (5e, 36att) and held the Women of Troy to just 10 kills (6e, 31att, .129).

The Bears opened up play by nabbing three of the first four points off kills but the Trojans weathered the early storm to force the first tie at three-all. USC claimed a one point lead on several occasions but pulled away after going up 9-8 when Carico won the joust at the net. The Trojans never trailed again as Cal committed three consecutive errors to give up a 12-9 lead. Solomon's third kill of the set broke a four-point USC run and sent the Bears on a five-point run of their own. However, Gysin gave the Trojans set point at 24-20. The Bears fought back for two points before Williams put a shot through the Cal block to close out the first set, 25-22. Both teams registered 17 kills in the first stanza; Cal attacked at a .289 rate (6e, 38att) while the Trojans put in a .361 attack rate (4e, 36att).

Cal returns to the friendly confines of Haas Pavilion, where they have won the last 16 matches dating back to Oct. 11, 2007. The school-record streak is on the line when Cal opens up the second half of Pac-10 play with Washington State visiting Berkeley at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31. The Halloween-night matchup with the Cougars will be broadcast live by Comcast SportsNet California. Next, the Bears face off with No. 6 Washington in a 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon matinee on Nov. 2. The remainder of Cal's home matches are free to youth up to the 12th grade with valid student identification. Please check CalBears.com for schedules, statistics and information.

Article courtesy of California athletics.

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