Dec. 5, 2010

BERKELEY, CALIF. - Courtesy of Cal Athletics

The seventh-seeded California volleyball team (27-3) advanced to the Seattle Regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship as the Golden Bears defeated North Carolina (25-10) in three sets (25-13, 25-18, 25-18) in the second round at Haas Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 4. Cal will make its fifth consecutive appearance in an NCAA regional semifinal, sixth overall, when the Bears take on 10th-seeded Minnesota (26-8) on Friday, Dec. 11.

Senior setter Carli Lloyd posted her 11th double-double of the year with 38 assists and 10 digs to go with five blocks. Once again, Lloyd's accuracy had the Cal offense humming to the tune of a .376 hitting percentage (43k, 8e, 93att). Junior outside hitter Tarah Murrey led the way with 16 kills (3e, 34att, .382) and added nine digs and three blocks. Sophomore middle hitter Shannon Hawari added six kills (0e, 8att, .750) as did sophomore opposite hitter Correy Johnson (0e, 14att, .429).

Cal out-blocked North Carolina, 11-1, and put up 55 digs, led by sophomore libero Robin Rostratter, whose 20 digs led all players. It was the her seventh outing with at least 20 this year. Rostratter's 434 digs this season put her into seventh all-time at Cal for single-season digs. Sophomore middle hitter Kat Brown tied for team-high honors with five blocks and came up with five kills (1e, 13att, .308) and freshman outside Adrienne Gehan put down seven kills (2e, 17att, .294).

North Carolina sophomore outside hitter Emily McGee (11k, 7e, 41att, .098) and senior middle blocker Suzanne Haydel (11k, 3e, 29att, .276) each had 11 kills to lead the Tar Heels. Junior libero Kaylie Gibson had a team-high 10 digs and junior right-side Aleksandra Georgieva logged four service aces in the loss.

The Tar Heels registered consecutive aces to open the match, but the Bears went ahead, 3-2, on a cross-court kill by Murrey. Murrey went cross-court once more to give Cal a 4-3 lead, the last advantage it would need. Gehan stepped into the middle and ripped a kill down the center of the court to put the Bears up, 11-7, but Cal went ahead by 10, 19-9, when Hawari and Johnson teamed up to reject a UNC attack. The Bears took their first 12-point lead at 22-10 when Murrey came out of the back row and went down the middle for the point. The Tar Heels won the next two rallies, but Brown secured the 25-13 win for Cal with a kill on a quick set from Lloyd. The Bears posted 14 kills in the first set (1e) on 29 attacks for a .414 hitting percentage and used three blocks and 20 digs to hold the Tar Heels to a .000 rate (8k, 8e) on 40 swings.

North Carolina rallied to a 9-6 lead in the second set, but a pair of Bear kills pulled Cal to within one at 9-8. Gehan's cut shot knotted the score at 10-all before Lloyd and Brown returned an attack by Bleke for the last lead change of the set. With the lead in hand, Cal cruised out to a 14-10 advantage as Schmitt served her second ace in three plays. Brown's kill on a quick-set put the Bears up, 20-15, but it was Hawari's accuracy on a tip shot that gave the Bears set point. Johnson stepped out on a slide play to earn the kill on the next rally for a 25-18 win. Cal logged 15 kills with one error on 32 attacks for a .438 hitting percentage. The Tar Heels also had 15 kills (4e, 39att) for a .282 attack rate.

Cal never trailed in the third set, on its way to a 25-18 win, and pulled out to a 9-3 lead when Johnson earned a kill. The Bears blasted open a 10-point gash at 19-9 when Lloyd and Hawari went up twice on successive plays to block McGee's attacks. Murrey earned one of her two solo blocks to set her team up with a 21-10 lead before North Carolina went on a 7-2 run to get within five points at 23-18. Brown killed a quick set from Lloyd to give Cal match-point at 24-18 before the two got together for one last block of McGee to seal the victory. The Bears notched 14 kills (5e, 32att, .281) in the final stanza and pushed the Heels into negative territory with nine kills (10e, -.026) on 39 attempts.