Dec. 1, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - The California volleyball team suffered a season-ending 3-2 loss to North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday evening - 25-17, 16-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-9.
The Golden Bear close their season with a 26-7 overall record while the Tar Heels improve to 24-8 and will face the winner of the Pepperdine-Missouri State match.
"Obviously we are extremely disappointed," Cal head coach Rich Feller said. "There were a lot of factors. I don't think we played our best match by a long shot. I have to give North Carolina a lot of credit. They played hard, they played with abandon. They made a lot of good things happened and put a lot of pressure on us. Certainly this is not the outcome we wanted or expected, but we got beat tonight by a very good team."
UNC won the first set, but the Bears returned like a vengeance in set two, hitting .406. After going up 2-1, UNC limited the Cal offense to sub-.100 hitting in sets four (.061) and five (.045) en route to the 3-2 victory. Overall, the Tar Heels out hit the Bears, .230-.188, and out blocked them, 17-11.
Tarah Murrey led Cal with 14 kills. Her kills, coupled with 15 digs, made for her 16th double-double of the season. Murrey also put up two blocks and one service ace in her Cal career finale.
"It is an experience I will never forget," Murrey responded when asked about her career. "I love these girls. I have loved every minute I have had with this team. It is very disappointing for it to end this way."
"At this point everybody wants it," Rostratter said. "Whoever performs the best gets it. We learned we not only have to work hard but we have to show up to practice every day and show actual improvement so when we get out on the court we can show our skills and play at the best level we can."
North Carolina's Emily McGee proved to be the difference for the Tar Heels for McGee notched a match-high 23 kills. When McGee faltered, Chaniel Nelson stepped in, accumulating 16 kills.
Set One - UNC 25, Cal 17:
Tarah Murrey knotted the set for the eighth time with a kill to bring the score to 9-9. Kat Brown laced a kill to keep the Bears within one of the Tar Heels at 10-11, and then put up another after a 3-0 UNC run to make the scoreboard read 14-11 in UNC's favor. With a kill, Shannon Hawari thwarted another 3-0 spurt by the Tar Heels to bring Cal six behind before combining with Murrey on the block to cut UNC's lead to five at 20-15. However, a 6-2 Carolina run put the set out of distance.
Set-One Capsule -
The first set was a tale of two halves with the set being tied eight times and the lead changing hands twice before the Tar Heels blockers flat-out denied the Cal offense
Set Two - Cal 25, UNC 16:
Adrienne Gehan tooled it off the block to give Cal a crucial one-point lead at 4-3. Gehan's kill jumpstarted a 5-1 run for the Bears to pull ahead by as much as four at 8-4. That 5-1 run turned into an 8-3 one with Kat Brown tipping the ball for a five-point lead at 11-6. The winds shifted slightly with the Tar Heels posting a 4-1 run before another Gehan kill and a block by Elly Barrett and Shannon Hawari put a stop to that forward progress, upping Cal's lead to 14-10. Robin Rostratter assisted Murrey with a bump set to build Cal's cushion to four at 18-12. Murrey laced a kill so hard that it could have dented the Pepperdine floor before dumping the ball for a 22-13 lead. Three errors helped the Bears seal the 25-16 set-two victory.
The Bears retuned to form, hitting .406 to UNC's .081
Set Three - Cal 25, UNC 23:
Correy Johnson dumped the ball to keep Cal within one at 2-1. Shannon Hawari swung down the line for a kill, lessening the Tar Heels' lead to 7-4. Two UNC errors, an ace by Tarah Murrey and a kill from Adrienne Gehan made up a 4-0 run that brought the Bears back into the set with their first lead at 10-9. Slowly but surely, the Tar Heels crawled back into the lead, bolstered in no small part to Chaniel Nelson. Down by three, the Bears rattled off four straight points - Johnson kill, UNC error, Gehan kill, Brown kill - for a 21- lead. Three unanswered UNC kills gave the Tar Heels a 23-21 advantage, but the Bears closed in with a 4-0 run.
After UNC led by as much as four (8-4), an 8-2 run propelled the Bears into the lead (14-11)
Set Four - UNC 25, Cal 17:
After UNC started stronger and faster than Cal, the Bears responded with five unanswered points to notch their first lead of the set at 9-8. Three Bear attack errors and two Tar Heel kills made for a 5-0 run to put UNC back on top, 13-9. Then it was Cal's turn for another run - this one at 3-0 - to come within one of UNC at 13-12. Attacking out of the middle, Kat Brown laid down a heavy spike to cut UNC's lead to just one at 16-15. Correy Johnson tallied a kill to bring things to Cal within two at 18-16 before the ball broke a ceiling light, causing a delay in the set. Gehan broke up a 6-0 run by the Tar Heels, bringing things to 23-16.
Emily McGee had four errors but her six kills rendered the Bears helpless
Set Five - UNC 15, Cal 9:
UNC began the deciding set on a 6-1 run with Cal's first point coming on a Tar Heel error. Correy Johnson notched Cal's first kill at 6-2, and Shannon Hawari put up an important kill to cut UNC's lead to four at 7-3. It was Hawari for the Bears' two points with the Plano, Texas, native killing it to bring things to 9-5. Kat Brown and Tarah Murrey combined to block Nelson and then Murrey laced a kill, making the scoreboard read 9-7 and forcing UNC to call timeout. A kill by Kat Brown brought the Bears within three at 11-8, and a Tar Heels service error did the same but at 12-9. Three unanswered points end the set, and the match, in UNC's favor.