No. 17 Cal Volleyball Falls to No. 14 Saint Mary's, 3-2, in NCAA Second Round

Dec. 3, 2004

BERKELEY, CA - The No. 17-ranked California volleyball team (17-12) gave a noble effort, but the Golden Bears fell to No. 14-ranked Saint Mary's (25-3), 3-2 (30-28, 26-30, 30-28, 24-30, 15-13), in an NCAA second round match Friday night at Haas Pavilion. The Gaels will now advance to the round of 16 Dec. 10-11 in Seattle, while Cal finishes the year 17-12 overall and 11-7 in the Pac-10.

The Bears were down 14-10 in game five, but were able to hold off Saint Mary's on a kill by senior Gabrielle Abernathy, block assists by Alicia Powers and Ellen Orchard, and a Gaels' hitting error by Lindsey Bogason to get within, 14-13. Finally, Saint Mary's was able to end Cal's rally, and season, on a kill by Kaui Salzman.

'Both teams battled it out tonight,' said Cal coach Rich Feller. 'Every point was do or die, every minute was tight. When you look at the stats, it shows that everything was even. We are disappointed that the season is over, but I am extremely proud of this team - the most proud of any team I have ever had.'

The Bears were led by their two seniors, Abernathy and Camille Leffall. Abernathy finished with a team-high 21 kills, while Leffall chipped in 15 kills and a season-high 10 total blocks. The two Cal standouts concluded outstanding careers. Abernathy finished with 1,224 kills, seventh on the Bears' all-time kills list, and only the ninth Cal player to ever record over 1,000 kills. Leffall broke her own school record with a .384 hitting percentage this season, surpassing her .381 hitting percentage set as a freshman in 2001. She also is the school-record holder with a .363 career hitting percentage, and tonight broke the school-record for career blocks with 438.

Other top players for Cal were junior Powers with 15 kills and only two errors in 35 attempts for a .371 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Samantha Carter had a career-high 71 assists, junior libero Alexis Kollias had a career-high 31 digs, junior Jenna Brown had 11 kills, 14 digs and nine block assists, and freshman Orchard finished with 13 kills.

Saint Mary's was led by 22 kills by Cassandra Kolkka, 18 kills from Salzman and 17 kills from Bogason. The Gaels advance to the round of 16 after defeating Sacramento State, 3-1, on Thursday. The Bears advanced to the NCAA second round by topping Pacific, 3-2, Thursday. Cal had qualified for the round of 16 last season, before falling to Georgia Tech, 3-1, in Honolulu. The Bears have now qualified for the NCAA tournament three years in-a-row for the first time since the 1987-89 seasons. In 2002, Cal lost in the second round, 3-0, at UC Santa Barbara.