Sept. 14, 2012
BERKELEY - Senior opposite Correy Johnson returned to the Cal lineup after a three-match absence and finished one off a career-high with 16 kills, and the Bears got by Saint Mary's College on Friday night, 26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20 at Haas Pavilion.
Johnson, who played in just her fourth match of the season because of a stress reaction in her leg, hit for a .314 percentage. She missed the first two matches of the season and then sat out last weekend's Cal Molten Classic.
"It's hard to get into a rhythm," Johnson said. "I can't jump in practice so I can't get into a rhythm in practice, either. But I've played for so long, I'm used to it."
Johnson made her season-debut during the Wahine Volleyball Classic in Hawaii two weeks ago. She was inserted into the lineup at the beginning of the third set against Baylor and Cal went on to lose in three sets. Johnson then played in back-to-back five-set matches each of the next two nights, and set her career-high in kills with 17 against USF.
"I hope she gets really healthy so she can hit even more balls," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "It opens things up so much because they can't double up on the left side hitter. I can see sometimes she is not making the adjustments, and some of that has to be a little fatigue."
The Gaels outhit the Bears .209 to .195 as Cal struggled with its passing all night. But the Bears made 70 digs and had 11 blocks.
"We always learn from wins and we always learn from losses, but you learn more from losses. I want them to consider this a loss," Feller said. "I want them to learn the lessons from this as if it were a loss. We grinded it out. When we really needed to, we had some key plays. It wasn't pretty, but I love it when we win."
The first set was extremely tight throughout. Other than Saint Mary's leads of 10-8 and 12-10, neither team held more than a one-point advantage until Cal closed out the set. With the score knotted at 24-24, Gehan came up with a kill and Higgins blocked the Gaels' Katie Reininger to finish things off.
It looked as though the Bears carried the momentum from their victory in the first set into the second when they raced out to a 6-0 lead. Senior middle blocker Kat Brown led the charge with a pair of blocks. But the set turned dramatically after that. After Cal led 8-2, the Gaels proceeded to go on a 20-6 run to take a 22-14 advantage and cruise to the win to even the match.
The Bears took a 13-8 lead in the third set but Saint Mary's scored five unanswered points to tie it at 13-13. With the scored knotted at 21-21, Johnson hammered down a kill, and Gehan and Brown teamed up for a block to give Cal a 23-21 advantage. The Bears maintained the lead and closed out the set.
The fourth set was a turnabout from the second set. The Gaels sprinted out to a 6-1 lead to force a Cal timeout. The Bears fought back to tie it at 9-9 and it remained close until Cal made a final surge. The pivotal sequence came with Saint Mary's leading 19-18. Gehan registered a kill and setter Joan Caloiaro drove down an overpass to put the Bears in front 20-19. After a Gaels timeout, Marlee Davis came up with a service error and Gehan had another kill to give Cal a 22-19 advantage.
Saint Mary's scored just one more point the rest of the way, as senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari had a kill and a block to help finish off the match.
The Bears are back in action Saturday night at USF. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.