Nov. 4, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Cal's women's volleyball team played one match this weekend that it hoped to win. It played another that it needed to win.
The Bears took care of business in both, and now their confidence is growing as they enter the final stretch of the 2012 season.
Junior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan continued her comeback from a knee injury with 19 kills, 10 digs, five blocks and a .350 hitting percentage as the Bears got by Oregon State on Sunday, 25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 25-20.
Senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari completed an impressive weekend with 13 kills at a .524 percentage, five blocks and a career-high five aces for the Bears (13-11, 7-7 Pac-12), who have won back-to-back matches for the first time since mid-September.
Sunday's win followed an emotional five-set victory at No. 2 Oregon, and the Bears avoided a letdown to put away the Beavers.
"Friday night was hope to win, great if we do," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "Today was an absolutely must-win. We let them in the door a little bit, but I have to give credit to our team for sticking with it and taking care of it in the fourth set."
Senior middle hitter Kat Brown had a season-high nine blocks for the Bears while senior opposite hitter Correy Johnson had nine kills and five blocks. Setter Joan Caloiaro had her Pac-12 leading 13th double-double with 48 assists and 17 digs.
"We didn't dwell on the Oregon win too long," Johnson said. "We let it have its high but we also went right to OSU. We knew it was an important game we had to win. In the past, we may have dwelled too long on a big win. We didn't do that this time."
It was a huge weekend for Gehan, who made her first start in a month Friday and had 15 kills. She hit .314 during the two matches and averaged 3.78 kills per set. "Adrienne is a stabilizing factor and a calming force," Feller said. "She helps the players around here be more in control."
Cal fell behind early in each set but never let the Beavers (13-13, 3-11) pull away. The Bears dropped the first three points of the first set but came back to tie it at 6-6. Three straight points put Cal in front, 15-11. With the Bears leading 20-17, freshman outside hitter Nikki Gombar served four straight points to give Cal match point. But the Beavers scored four in a row of their own to cut it to 24-21. Caloiaro put down a kill to finally close out the set.
It was close for most of the second set. Called 18-16 before the Bears scored three in a row to extend it to 21-16 and easily cruised to the win.
The Beavers came out smoking in the third set, racing out to a 14-6 lead. Oregon State still led 18-12 when Hawari stepped behind the service line and led the Bears to seven straight points to take a 19-18 advantage. Hawari had four aces during the run. After Oregon St. stopped the streak by scoring four straight points to assume a 22-19 lead, Cal fought back to tie it once again. At 24-24, Hawari was blocked and Beavers outside hitter Camille Saxton put down a kill to force the fourth set.
The turning point in the fourth set came after it was tied at 15-15. The Bears scored six straight points, helped out by two kills and two blocks by Hawari, to make it 21-15. The Beavers stayed within 23-20 before back-to-back kills by Johnson polished off the match.
Feller said Hawari's serve has been good but inconsistent during her time at Cal. But she used the motivation of not having to sub out when it's turn to serve to improve.
"She's always had a great serve. She's just never been very consistent with it," Feller said. "Shannon is a great all-around player. Her incentive is when she serves well, she gets to play more."
It was a huge weekend for Hawari as well. She hit .521 and averaged 3.11 kills per set in the two matches. She averaged 1.44 blocks and 0.67 aces.
The weekend bolstered the Bears' NCAA Tournament hopes, but the team knows there is still more work to do. Cal gets a chance at another signature win when No. 8 Washington visits Haas Pavilion Wednesday at 7 p.m. The match will be televised by ESPNU.
"I feel like our confidence is still growing," Johnson said. "I felt like there were times against OSU we didn't draw off our confidence. We just proved we beat a good team but we still had moments where we lacked confidence as a team. We need to keep building on that."