It was “Beat Cal Week” at the University of Oregon this past week. And although that might have rung true for the football team, the women’s volleyball squad wasn’t quite so lucky.
The No. 4 Cal volleyball team picked up its first set of conference road wins this weekend, sweeping No. 15 Oregon 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-12) on Friday night in Eugene, and following it up with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-15) win over Oregon State in Corvallis.
Despite a record 6,210 boisterous fans in attendance at Matthew Knight Arena, the Bears (17-2, 7-2 in the Pac-12) played some of their best volleyball of the season in dispatching the Ducks (12-4, 5-3).
“It got so loud that it almost turned silent to us,” senior Tarah Murrey said. “We handled it really well.”
A week after struggling defensively against Arizona State, Cal held Oregon to a season low .042 hitting percentage, logging 18 blocks along the way.
The Bears’ passing was also as crisp as it has been in 2011, allowing the squad to stay in system for the majority of the points. Libero Robin Rostratter saw her game get back on track, notching an impressive 24 digs after a subpar showing against the Sun Devils. The junior had also been struggling with her serving, but managed to avoid any service errors.
“When we got into a rut, Robin did a really good job making calls and switching up the service line,” Murrey said.
As a team, however, Cal continued to be plagued by sloppy serving, as five different players tallied errors and none picked up an ace.
After taking two contested sets, Cal opened the third set with a 6-0 run, forcing the Ducks to burn both of their timeouts. The Bears would keep the pressure on Oregon, and Murrey’s 19th kill of the night sealed the final set at 25-12, a frame in which the Ducks were held to an astonishing -0.081 hitting percentage.
After having the day off on Saturday, the Bears slightly regressed on Sunday against Oregon State (11-7, 3-5) at McArthur Court. Cal came out of the gate visibly unfocused, allowing the Beavers to capitalize in taking the first set 25-23. The Bears often got a solid pass and set but failed to terminate the ball on the third hit.
“We just took it a little too lightly, and we thought we could just sort of cruise,” Feller said. “It’s easy to just let yourself get lulled into that, and we stopped doing the little things.”
The Bears then turned up their defensive intensity, holding Oregon State to -0.044 in the next frame. Cal would dominate the rest of the way to seal their first conference road sweep of the 2011 season.
“They showed that when they realized that they weren’t performing, they could intellectually figure out what they need to do to make it all better,” Feller said. ”It makes me feel good that they can do that.”
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