Dec. 12, 2008

 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The No. 8-ranked California volleyball team (26-6, 13-5 Pac-10) claimed a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-22, 25-22) of ninth-seeded No. 14 Illinois (26-8, 15-5 Big Ten) today at the Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State in the University Park Regional semifinal of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. The Golden Bears advance to the regional final for the second consecutive year and will take on the winner of a 6 p.m. ET match between top-seeded No. 1 Penn State (34-0, 20-0 Big Ten) and Western Michigan (28-6, 14-2 MAC) at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 13. The match will be broadcast live by ESPNU.

Cal's outside hitters led the way as each reached double-digits in kills. Senior Am'ra Solomon led with 13 kills without error (21att) to attack at a .619 rate. Freshman Tarah Murrey was right behind her with 12 kills (6e, 27att, .222), six digs and three blocks. Junior Hana Cutura was next in line with 11 kills (7e, 36att, .111) as she logged her 11th double-double of the season (10 digs). Cutura moved into fifth place for kills in a single season at Cal (493) and sophomore setter Carli Lloyd moved into the seventh spot in single-season assists with 1,366. Junior libero Kristen Kathan tied for match-lead with 12 digs and moved into third place for single-season digs (487).

Lloyd led all players with 42 assists and had two kills and two blocks to go along with her 12th double-double of the year as she posted 10 digs. The Bears maintained a consistent attack in the middle as senior Kat Reilly had four kills without an error on five attacks (.800) and two blocks. Junior middle Mindi Wiley posted eight kills (3e, 15att) and a .333 attack rate to go with a match-high six blocks. Illinois sophomore outside hitter Laura DeBruler led all players with 18 kills and 48 attacks (8e, .208) and added eight digs to her final stat line. The Illini also got a solid contribution from junior outside Kylie McCulley, who posted 11 kills (3e, 24att, .333) and seven digs.

The Bears completed the match with a .297 attack rate, getting 50 kills on 111 attacks (17e) and out-blocked the Illini, 8-0-7.0. Illinois had 41 kills (18e, 109att) and registered a .211 attack rate in the match.

The Bears seized the final lead of the match when Solomon claimed her 13th kill on a cross-court set from Lloyd at 23-22. Kathan dropped her next float serve at the feet of Illinois libero Ashley Edinger to set the Bears up with match point at 24-22. The Illini held the lead and went up by as many as three points through the heart of the set until a one-handed quick set from Lloyd allowed Reilly to even the score at 21. Murrey took a high set from Wiley on the last play of the match to log her 12th kill of the night, ending Illinois's season. The Bears attacked at a .312 rate in the third set, getting 16 kills on 32 attacks (6e) and held the Illini to 13 kills (6e, 36att, .194).

After the Bears took the first point of the second set, the Illini seized control on a kill by DeBruler and held the lead until Wiley connected with a quick set from Lloyd to knot things up at 14-all. Murrey punched a kill off the Illinois block on the next play to give Cal a one point advantage at 15-14 before a kill by Solomon stretched the Bears' lead to four at 22-18. The Illini made one more run to pull within a point at 23-22 on back-to-back kills from senior outside hitter Kayani Turner but Murrey went up for an attack against one blocker and cleared the block to give Cal set point at 24-22. DeBruler had a shot to pull Illinois back within a point but her attack went long to give the Bears a 2-0 lead heading into the break. Cal attacked at a .333 rate in the second set and got 18 kills on 36 attacks (6e). The Illini posted 16 kills (6e, 34att) and a .265 attack percentage.

Things stayed close in the first set as Cal got its first lead at 5-4 when Lloyd and Wiley teamed up at the net to put a block on DeBruler. The teams faced 15 tied scores before the Bears took the final lead at 22-21 on a kill by Cutura. It was Cutura's service ace two plays later that put set-point in Cal's court. Illinois's McCulley put a shot off the Cal block to preserve life for the Illini but Solomon returned the favor by blasting a kill off the Illini block to end things at 25-22. The Bears had 16 kills in the opening set (5e, 43att) and recorded a .256 attack percentage to overcome the bleeding left by four service errors. Cal held the Illini to 13 kills and a .179 attack rate (6e, 39att).