No. 8 Cal Volleyball Defeats Michigan, 3-0, to Advance to NCAA Round of 16

Dec. 6, 2003

BERKELEY, CA - Led by the strong hitting of junior All-American Mia Jerkov and junior outside hitter Gabrielle Abernathy, the No. 8 ranked Cal volleyball team (25-6) defeated Michigan (21-12), 3-0 (30-23, 30-23, 30-28) Saturday evening in the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament at Haas Pavilion. The Bears now advance to the NCAA round of 16, Dec. 12-13 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Cal had defeated Saint Mary's, 3-0, on Friday, while the Wolverines had upended Colorado, 3-0, in the earlier first round match. It is the first time in school history the Bears had advanced past the NCAA second round.

Cal will next play No. 11 ranked Georgia Tech (33-3) Friday, Dec. 12 (5 p.m. HST). If the Bears defeat the Yellow Jackets, the will face the winner of the No. 2 Hawaii (34-1)-No. 18 Illinois (26-6) match on Saturday, Dec. 13 (7 p.m. HST). Cal has never played Georgia Tech.

Both Jerkov and Abernathy were impressive for the second night in a row. Jerkov finished with 29 kills after recording 30 kills the night before against Saint Mary's. Abernathy had 15 kills and hit .423 for the match after tallying nine kills with only two errors in 19 attempts the night before. The Bears out-hit the Wolverines, .336-.267 and also got stellar play from freshman setter Samantha Carter and sophomore middle hitter Alicia Powers. Carter had 50 assists with a service ace and 10 digs, while Powers had seven kills with only one error in 12 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore Jenna Brown led Cal with 12 digs.

Michigan's top hitter was Jennifer Gandolph with 13 kills.

Similar to their victory over Saint Mary's the night before, the Bears toughest game was game three. In game one, Cal got down 13-10 but were able to battle back and finally took a 18-17 lead on a Powers' service ace and proceeded to outscore the Wolverines, 12-6, the rest of the way to win 30-23. The Bears never trailed in game two and finished the contest off with kills by Jerkov, Powers and Abernathy to again win 30-23. In the third and final game, Michigan owned a 14-10 lead before Cal was eventually able to tie it up, 14-14, on a Wolverine hitting error. From there, the game went back and forth until a Powers' kill gave the Bears a 27-26 lead. Powers followed her kill with a service ace to put Cal up, 28-26. Michigan's Gandolph then hit wide to put the Bears up, 29-26. Gandolph kept the Wolverines alive with a kill, followed by a failed kill attempt by Jerkov to make the score, 29-28. Finally, Jerkov sent Cal to Hawaii with a kill down the line for a 30-28 victory.

'I think we prepared as well as we could in one day (for Michigan),' said Cal coach Rich Feller. 'We knew Michigan was going to come out strong and that they are athletic. I just think we executed very, very well. We were real focused and played at a high level right from the very beginning. That was a great match for us. It was some pretty incredible volleyball.'

The Bears have now won 20 or more matches in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981-83. Cal was 20-12 in 2002, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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