Nov. 19, 2012
BERKELEY - Senior opposite hitter Correy Johnson had 16 kills while senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari and junior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan had 13 apiece as Cal's women's volleyball team came back from two sets down to notch an exciting 19-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-15, 15-13 Pac-12 Conference victory at Haas Pavilion on Monday night.
The win guarantees the Bears (15-14, 9-10 Pac-12) at least a .500 overall record, meaning they are now eligible for an NCAA Tournament berth. Cal closes out the regular season Friday against No. 2 Stanford.
Freshman outside hitter Lara Vukasovic came off the bench to register 12 kills in just three sets of action. Senior middle hitter Kat Brown had four blocks, giving her 502 for her career and putting her just two behind Ellen Orchard's career record at Cal.
Cal was thoroughly outplayed in the first two sets, getting outblocked 13-1 and outhit .377-.110. But the match changed when coach Rich Feller inserted Vukasovic into the lineup to begin the third set. She had four kills in the third set and six more in the fourth set. During a seven-point Cal streak in the fourth set, Vukasovic had five kills.
"Lara was fearless. She doesn't know what it's like to play in these kind of matches and really didn't care," Feller said. "She just went out there and swung away and played like there was nothing to lose. I think that energized people. That allowed other people to free up a little bit and just relax."
Hawari and Gehan teamed up for three straight blocks to close out the fourth set and even the match.
Utah scored four of the first five points in the fifth set, but the Bears came back to take a 6-5 lead. The set then went back and forth until setter Joan Caloiaro put down a kill and Utah's Shelby Dalton committed a hitting error to give the Bears a 13-11 lead. The teams exchanged points before Hawari ended the match with a kill.
Hawari had six of her kills in the fifth set.
"We kind of just let go of what happened in the first two sets and realized that this is potentially one of the last matches we will play," Hawari said. "Some of us will never play volleyball again after these two matches possibly. I think obviously the seniors are aware of it everyday, but reminding the younger players that we want them to fight for us and work hard for us and the team is helpful."
The Utes (13-19, 4-15), who have taken top-10 teams such as UCLA and Washington to five sets this season, finished with 18 blocks, tying the mark they set earlier this season for the most by a Pac-12 team in a three-set match this season. Dalton, Bailey Bateman and Erin Reed each had eight blocks for the Utes, who entered the match tied for seventh in the nation in blocks (3.00 per set).
Friday's Big Spike begins at 8 p.m. and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks. It will be the final home match in the careers of Hawari, Brown, Johnson and injured libero Robin Rostratter. The four seniors will be honored during a pre-match ceremony.