No. 13 Cal Volleyball Falls to No. 2 Stanford, 3-0, in NCAA Round of 16
Dec. 8, 2006
AUSTIN, TEXAS - In a battle between two top Bay Area schools, the No. 13-ranked California women's volleyball team fell to No. 2-ranked Stanford, 3-0 (31-29, 30-25, 31-29) Friday night in the NCAA round of 16 at Gregory Gymnasium on the University of Texas campus. Despite losing 3-0, the Golden Bears pushed the 2006 Pac-10 champion Cardinal hard, especially in games one and three, losing tight contests, 31-29. Cal was paced by junior Angie Pressey's 12 kills, and nine and eight kills, respectively, by sophomore Morgan Beck (.429, 9k, 3e, 14att) and senior Natalie Smart (.438, 8k, 1e, 16att). Junior Ellen Orchard added seven kills and had a team-high five total blocks.
'This team has worked harder than any other team I have ever had,' said Cal coach Rich Feller, who has now led the Bears to the NCAA round of 16 for the second time in school history (Feller also led Cal to the NCAA round of 16 in 2003). 'They have probably achieved more through adversity than any other of my squads. I am so proud of them. Only one team in this tournament can win their last match. I would have liked nothing more than to have defeated Stanford in the NCAA Tournament, but now I hope they win it all.'
The 2006 Bears, led by senior captains Samantha Carter and Jillian Davis, will go down as one of the school's all-time best, finishing 22-10 and winning 3-1 matches against Louisiana State and Cal Poly in the NCAA first and second rounds last weekend in San Luis Obispo. Setter Carter and libero Davis were starters as freshman on the Bears' 2003 squad, and are both school record holders. Carter, who finished the Stanford match with four kills and 39 assists, completed her Cal career with 5,777 assists - only the fifth Pac-10 player to ever record over 5,000 career assists. Davis, who recorded nine digs Friday night, ended her college career with a school-record 1,810 career digs.
In game one, Cal was step for step with the Cardinal. After several lead changes early, the Bears were able to tie the game, 17-17, on block assists from Pressey and Orchard, and 23-23, on an Orchard kill. Finally, Cal broke a 25-25 tie with freshman Kristen Kathan's service ace and a hitting error by the Cardinal's Lizzie Suiter for a 27-25 advantage. Unfortunately for the Bears, they were only able to capture the lead once more, at 28-27 on block assists from Orchard and Carter, before Stanford got four of the next five points. After Orchard and Carter's block, Stanford's Kristen Richards recorded a kill and Pressey's kill attempt was blocked by Foluke Akinradewo and Erin Waller. Smart was able to tie the game, 29-29, with a kill, but the Cardinal finished the game off on kills by Waller and Akinradewo.
Cal struggled mightily in game two, allowing Stanford to go on 5-0 run and 4-0 runs on the way to an early 12-4 Cardinal lead. The Bears did not give up, though, later going on a 5-0 run behind kills from Pressey and Smart, a hitting error and a net violation on Stanford, and an ace by Orchard, to get within 25-18. Cal continued to fight, getting to 28-24 on a kill by Smart, a service ace by Davis and a kill by Carter. Akinradewo and Beck then traded kills before Cynthia Barboza finally finished off game two with a kill for a 30-25 win.
The Bears made an impressive run at the end of game three as well. Down 29-24 after a Waller kill, Cal almost made a miraculous comeback. Pressey recorded back-to-back kills, Carter knocked down a service ace, Richards had a hitting error and Pressey put down her 12th kill of the match to tie the game, 29-29. Stanford then rebounded on kills by Akinradewo and Richards to advance on to the Elite Eight, 31-29.
The Bears were the only unseated team to advance to the NCAA round of 16 this season. Cal's match against Stanford was the first time the Bears had faced the Cardinal in NCAA volleyball tournament competition.