Dec. 4, 2009

Courtesy of California

COLUMBUS, Ohio -  The ninth-seeded California volleyball team (19-10, 11-7 Pac-10) eliminated Lipscomb (28-4, 20-0 Atlantic Sun) in three sets (25-15, 25-22, 25-9) on Friday, Dec. 4, in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at St. John Arena. The Golden Bears were led by senior outside hitter Hana Cutura's 20 kills (1e, 36att, .528); while sophomore outside hitter Tarah Murrey added 10 kills (1e, 21att, .429) in Cal's eighth consecutive first-round victory.

The Bears attacked at a season-high .453 rate and earned 44 kills (5e) on 86 attacks while out-blocking Lipscomb, 8.0-1.0. The Cal defense held the Bison to a .120 attack percentage with 29 kills (18e) on 92 attacks. Cutura moved ahead of Stanford's Logan Tom (1999-02) for fifth place in Pac-10 career kills and now has 1,951. Senior libero Kristen Kathan led all players with 13 digs and registered the 10th-best Cal single-season mark for digs with 424 this year. Murrey added eight digs with junior setter Carli Lloyd putting in seven to go with her 38 assists. Senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley had five kills (0e, 8att, .625) and led the team with four blocks; one solo.

Lipscomb junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer led the Bison with nine kills (4e, 22att, .227) with junior middle hitter Alex Kelly adding eight kills (5e, 24att, .125) to go with a team-high nine digs. Freshman outside hitter Kaycee Green put in six kills (4e, 26att, .077) for Lipscomb.

Cal claimed the first six points of the third set and jumped out to a 9-1 advantage as freshman middle hitter Tia Gaffen and Cutura teamed up to stuff an attack by Kelly. With Murrey serving, the Bears didn't let up and earned four straight points on kills to take an 18-5 lead. Lipscomb ended the Cal run when Hinemeyer got a kill but the Bears came right back to seize set point at 24-7 as Kelly sent a shot out of bounds. After Green's line-shot turned into a kill, the Bison inserted senior opposite hitter Kaley Mohr to serve. Mohr earned a service ace to make the score 24-9 before her next serve went into the net to end the match in a 3-0 sweep for the Bears. Cal committed just one attacking error in the final set to tack up a .462 attack percentage (13k, 1e, 26att) and out-did the Bison attack by holding Lipscomb to five kills (8e, 32att) for a negative .094 attack rate.

Cal never trailed in the first set and pulled out to a 10-4 lead on consecutive kills by Wiley and Murrey. The Bears committed just one attack error in the set and posted a .524 attack rate with 14 kills (1e, 24att). Freshman opposite hitter Correy Johnson took a quick set as she came across the middle of the court and sent it to the floor for a kill and a 19-9 Cal lead before the Bison made a short push to earn two straight points on kills by Hinemeyer. With the lead at eight, Lloyd put up a high ball from her knees to give Cutura her sixth kill (0e, 9att, .667) of the set and a 22-13 advantage. The Bears earned set point as a Bison serve went long before Kelly sent the next Lipscomb attack out of bounds to give Cal the 25-15 win. The Bears held the Bison to a .138 attack percentage in the opening set (10k, 6e, 29att).

The Bears found themselves in a dog-fight of a second set when Lipscomb took its first lead of the match, 6-5, as Hinemeyer earned a kill off the Cal block. The Bison continued to lead until Johnson connected with Lloyd on a slide play to lock things up at eight all. Lipscomb replied to the lead once more and pulled out in front by three points at 15-12 as a Cal attack went out of bounds. The Bears pushed back once more and caught the Bison at 16-all on a service ace by sophomore setter Kristin Obermeyer before taking the final lead of the set at 19-18 on a solo block by Wiley. Lipscomb fought to stay close but a kill by Cutura gave the Bears set point at 24-22. Wiley and Johnson got together on the last play of the set to turn away a Hinemeyer attack and give the Bears a 2-0 lead going into the break. The Bears continued to hit efficiently to earn 17 kills on 36 attacks (3e, .389) and managed to stay ahead of a Lipscomb attack that posted 14 kills (4e, 31att) for a .323 attack percentage.

Cal will return to the court to face the winner of host Ohio State (24-9, 12-8 Big Ten) versus Cincinnati (25-10, 12-2 Big East) in a second-round match at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 5, at St. John Arena.

California Post-Match Quotes

Rich Feller, California head coach
On the match
"It's great to get a win, obviously. You come into the first round, travel a long way and you really don't know what to expect from your first and second round opponents. We just had to focus on ourselves. I think our team did a good job of making some adjustments after game two and that was fun. We ran our offense and had some incredible hitting percentages tonight."

Hana Cutura, senior outside hitter
On California's play
"We did our job tonight and we are happy to move to the next round. We still need to work on our passing and serving. Although we didn't have many serving errors, we didn't serve them as tough as I would like to."

Tarah Murrey, sophomore outside hitter
On California's third set
"We went to the locker room and talked about being more efficient on the court and paying more attention to detail. We went out in the third game and were ready to play volleyball."

Lipscomb Post-Match Quotes

Brian Rosenthal, Lipscomb head coach
On the match
"We are happy to be in the tournament but in all reality, for this program's sake and this team's sake, we wanted to go to the next level. Unfortunately, that did not happen for us tonight but in the future you will see us many, many times again. Credit to Cal and its players and staff. They did a fantastic job tonight and will give a lot of teams trouble through this tournament."

Stefine "Jake" Pease, junior setter
On the second set
"We just worried about what was on our side of the net. We got away from worrying about what they were doing and focused more on what we were going to do and wanted to do."

On the experience
"The first year we made the tournament we were just freshmen. Coming into the tournament was an exciting experience the first time, but this time we wanted more."

Alex Kelly, junior middle hitter
On the experience
"I don't think gaining knowledge or experience has anything to do with this tournament. It's just another volleyball game and we are supposed to play the way we played all season. We came here and didn't play the way we have all season long and played a great team that hopefully will do well in this tournament."