Nov. 3, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY - For the first time in the 2011 season, the No. 7 California volleyball team went five sets with an opponent before earning a 3-2 victory over Utah on Thursday evening at the Utes' Crimson Court. The Golden Bears won the second, fourth and fifth sets en route to the 22-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13 victory.
With the victory, Cal improves to 22-4 overall and 12-4 in the Pac-12 while Utah drops to 9-16 and 4-12 in conference play. The victory stopped a two-match losing streak for the Bears.
The last time the Bears had played to five sets dates back to the 2010 campaign - a 3-2 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 24, 2010, in Berkeley.
Tarah Murrey had a match-high 25 kills (16e, 68att) and 27.0 points. Those 25 kills bested Murrey's previous high of 21, and she tied her 2011 best of 68 attempts. Murrey's 27 points demolished her last high of 24.5, which had stood for almost two months.
Also surpassing a mark that had lasted more than two months, Correy Johnson's 13 kills are her season high. Johnson's 15.5 points tied her season high. Elly Barrett's 58 assists and 11 attempts both set new career highs. Robin Rostratter tied her season high with four assists.
Though the Bears were ahead in the middle of set one, Utah led early and towards the end en route to a 25-22 set-one victory, due in no small part to the Utes' 10-3 set-ending run. In set one, Utah out hit Cal, .533-.406. The Bears returned to form in set two, defeating Utah 25-19, though neither team could eclipse a .150 attack percentage. In set two, the Utah blockers stymied the Cal hitters with the Utes combining for 5.5 blocks.
After the Bears led for the entirety of set two, there were 10 ties and four lead changes in set three, which ultimately ended in a 25-23 Utah victory. Down 2-1 in the match, Tarah Murrey led her Bears with seven kills to a 25-18 win in set four. The Utes thrice staved off set point in the fifth set, but a kill by Correy Johnson ended things 15-13.
Set One - Utah 25, Cal 22:
After the Utes double stuffed Tarah Murrey, Murrey then tooled it off the block on her next swing to bring Cal to four behind at 6-2. With three Christina Higgins kills and a Utah service error, the Bears were back on track - only trailing by one, 8-7. Shannon Hawari tipped the ball to tie things at 10, and then a kill by Murrey handed Cal its first lead of the game at 11-10. The Utes knotted things at 11, after which the Bears held the lead by as much as three until a 7-1 run restored Utah's lead at 22-20. The Bears closed Utah's led to one at 22-21 with a Shannon Hawari kill off an Elly Barrett back set and then at 23-22 with a Murrey kill. A Cal service error put Utah up for set point, which came when Erin Redd and Abby Simmons denied a Murrey attempt.
Set Two - Cal 25, Utah 19:
Coming into the second stanza facing a 1-0 set deficit, the Bears established an early lead that they were in no mood to relinquish. Correy Johnson laced a kill to up Cal's advantage to 5-3. Hawari racked up two kills to put the Bears up 10-5 and then 12-8. The Utes came out of a timeout with three unanswered points, but back-to-back kills from Murrey and Higgins kept Utah at arm's length, 17-12. The Utes came as close as one at 18-17, but four straight Bear points made taking set two from Cal slightly more difficult. To end the set, Shannon Hawari and Elly Barrett spiked the rebounds off Utah digs, giving the Bears the 25-19 victory.
Set Three - Utah 25, Cal 23:
Tying the set for the sixth time, this one coming at 6-6, Christina Higgins laced a kill so powerful the rebound sailed through the rafters and into the stands. Utah had pulled ahead 11-7 when Shannon Hawari posted a solo block to bring the score to 11-8. A line shot by Correy Johnson cut Cal's deficit to two at 14-12. The Utes posted three unanswered points to lead, 16-12, to which the Bears responded with three straight scores of their own - capped off with a commanding Higgins kill following her solo stop that thwarted the Utah attack - to come within one of the Utes at 16-15. The set was tied at 20, 21, 22 and 23 before the Utes shut things down with two unanswered points.
Set Four - Cal 25, Utah 18:
Kat Brown and Tarah Murrey combined on the block for Cal to lead 4-3. A 6-1 run allowed the Utes to knot things at 10 and then lead 12-10 before a kill by Murrey narrowed Utah's lead to one at 12-11. A string of Utah errors coupled with a pair of Murrey kills bestowed the Bears with an 18-14 advantage. Lillian Schonewise had her hands in two blocks - one with Christina Higgins and another with Correy Johnson - to push Cal ahead 22-16. Elly Barrett earned her third kill of the evening, and then working off a bump set from Robin Rostratter, Murrey spun the ball off the block for set point.
Set Five - Cal 15, Utah 13:
Correy Johnson went cross-court for Cal to lead 3-2. Shannon Hawari tied things at eight and then it was Kat Brown, who knotted things at nine. Back-to-back kills courtesy Tarah Murrey gave the Bears an 11-9 lead. After Utah's Morgan Odale laced a kill to bring the score to 11-10, Murrey and Christina Higgins put down kills, putting Cal up 13-10. The Utes staved off set point with a pair of kills and an ace by Odale to come within one at 14-13. Correy Johnson netted the all-important set-point kill.
The Bears head to snowy Boulder, Colo., for a tilt with the Buffaloes on Saturday at noon PT. Colorado lost, 3-1, to Stanford on Thursday (25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-15).