Nov. 2, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. - Shannon Hawari was working so hard to lead Cal's women's volleyball team to a benchmark win Friday night that she was ready to continue playing, even when the match was over.
"I honestly felt like we needed to keep going. It was a little surreal," Hawari said. No, it was very real. The Bears did indeed pull off the biggest upset in the Pac-12 this season.
Sophomore outside hitter Christina Higgins had 17 kills while Hawari added 15 kills and eight blocks as the Bears outlasted No. 2 Oregon, 25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 15-13 at Matthew Knight Arena.
The win pushes Cal's record to 12-11, 6-7 in the Pac-12. Oregon dropped just its second match of the season, falling to 20-2 and 11-2 in the conference.
"The biggest thing is what this will do for our confidence," said junior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan, who had 15 kills, seven digs and four blocks in her first start since Oct. 3 after recovering from a knee injury. "I had a sigh of relief when it ended. I saw for the first time, that this is a good team. I knew that and kept telling myself that, but it's hard to keep telling yourself that when it's not changing and you're not showing it. The game tonight, if anything, helped our morale."
Senior opposite Correy Johnson had 13 kills and four blocks for the Bears, who outblocked the Ducks 13-3 and outhit them .364-.319.
Liz Brenner led Oregon with 26 kills while All-American Alaina Bergsma had 25.
Cal dominated the first two sets, registering five blocks in each set and exhibiting a balanced offense to take a commanding lead. But the Ducks, who entered the match ranked first in the conference and second in hitting percentage, got their offense going. Cal had no answer for Bergsma and Brenner as Oregon evened the match.
The Bears appeared to be in trouble after the Ducks took a 9-5 lead in the fifth set. But Gehan registered a kill and the Ducks committed consecutive hitting errors to make it 9-8. After Cal tied it at 10-10, the teams exchanged points until Oregon led 13-12.
The Bears called timeout, and Gehan put down a kill to tie it at 13-13. Hawari then teamed up with Gehan and Johnson for blocks on back-to-back kill attempts by Bergsma and Brenner to polish off the match.
"We had a little freak-out moment at 13-12," Hawari said. "I said to the team, `It's one point.' It's not any more important than any other point of the game. We knew we could come back. I think we have to have that mentality all the time - calm, collective and very competitive."
It was a big match for Gehan, who injured her knee the last match against Oregon and has been slowly working her way back into the regular playing rotation. Gehan missed three matches and then played just sparingly in the back row after that. But she played some front row during Sunday's loss to Arizona State, and Friday was ready to play a full match again.
"This whole week in practice, I felt really good," Gehan said. "I really feel like being on the sideline, even though it's not ideal, you can really take a lot of positives away from it. You can see a lot of things that you can't see when you are playing all the way around on the court. I realized that I was getting errors being hesitant so I might as well get errors being aggressive."
The Bears are back in action Sunday at Oregon State at 11 a.m. The match will air on the Pac-12 Networks.