Cal Volleyball Upsets No. 14 Santa Clara, 3-1, In NCAA Volleyball Action
Dec. 6, 2002
SANTA BARBARA, CA - Led by sophomore Mia Jerkov's 25 kills and 15 kills apiece from sophomore Camille Leffall and freshman Jenna Brown, the University of California women's volleyball team (20-11) upset No. 14 ranked Santa Clara (24-7) 3-1 (19-30, 30-20, 30-22, 30-20) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night at the Thunderdome at UC Santa Barbara.
It was the first NCAA postseason victory for Cal since 1989 and it was the sixth time this season the Bears have defeated a team ranked in the AVCA Top 25. Cal's 20th win is also the most wins for the Bears since the 1983 team went 22-20. Cal will now play No. 7 ranked UC Santa Barbara (29-2) in the NCAA second round at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. UCSB had defeated Fresno State, 3-1, in the other first round match-up. Cal has a 3-11 all-time record against the Gauchos, last defeating UCSB, 3-1, Sept. 9, 1989 at the JMN Premier Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. The Bears have made it to the NCAA second round three times in school history, going 0-3 in those contests.
Jerkov, Leffall and Brown all had impressive hitting percentages as well, at .404, .667 and .464, respectively. Junior setter Caity Noonan also performed well with 64 assists and seven digs. Jerkov now has 560 kills on the season, second-most single-season kills in school history behind Tiffany Rochelle's 568 kills in 1988. The Bears out hit the Broncos, .386-.285 and are now 27-6 all-time against Santa Clara, including defeating the Broncos earlier this season, 3-2 Nov. 19 at Santa Clara. Blocking was another key for Cal and it had 13 total team blocks, including eight block assists from Leffall and seven block assists from senior outside hitter Leah Young.
The Bears struggled badly in game one, losing 30-19. Cal had started out well, jumping out to a 6-4 lead on a kill by Leffall. However, after a Young kill tied the contest 7-7, Santa Clara went on a 9-1 run and never looked back. Leffall led the Bears with five kills in game one. Cal played much better in game two, winning 30-20. The Bears defense improved and they outhit Santa Clara .463-.235. Jerkov came on fire in the second game as well, recording 11 kills.
Cal was able to break away from a back-and-forth contest to win game three, 30-22. With the third game tied 20-20, the Bears received strong blocking from Young, Leffall and Brown, and kills from Leffall, Brown, Young and Jerkov. Cal also outhit the Broncos, .472-.167 in capturing game three. The Bears were able to continue their momentum in game four and won handily, 30-20. Cal had jumped out to a 10-2 lead on a kill by freshman Alicia Powers and never allowed the Broncos to get closer that five points on the way to the four-game match win.
'This feels great,' said Cal coach Rich Feller, who has led the Bears to NCAA postseason in his fourth season. 'To work as hard as this team has this season they certainly deserve this win and it proves that they are a legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber team. I am so proud of they way they have persevered this season and I am looking forward to tomorrow night. We struggled a little bit in the first game, but then we started playing together as a unit. We realized we had played this team (Santa Clara) before and we just needed to execute. In the second round we will get up for whomever we play. We came to this tournament with every intention of winning two matches.'