Sage Sparks #11 UCLA to Four-Set Win at #14 California

Oct. 30, 2009

BERKELEY, Calif. - Sophomore Sara Sage set career highs with 11 kills and a .471 hitting percentage, adding five blocks in her first start in a month, as the 11th-ranked Bruins defeated #14 California in four sets on Friday at Haas Pavilion. Set scores were 25-20, 25-20, 16-25, 25-19.

The Bruins have won four straight and six of their last seven to improve to 17-6 overall and 7-3 in Pac-10 play, while the Golden Bears fall to 12-8 and 5-5 in league action.

Senior Kaitlin Sather registered her team-best 11th double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs, while junior Dicey McGraw had 10 kills. Sophomore Amanda Gil had a great hitting night, posting seven kills and no errors in 18 swings for a .389 hitting percentage to go along with six blocks. Freshman Lauren Cook also produced on offense with six kills and no miscues in eight attempts (.750), adding 39 assists and nine digs. Sophomore Lainey Gera had a team-high 20 digs. The Bruins hit .216 as a team with 11 blocks.

The Bruins never trailed in the first set, scoring five of the first six points and never looking back. Freshman Bojana Todorovic opened the match with a kill, which was followed by a Cal attack error. The Bears sided out the next point, but a pair of kills by McGraw sandwiched between another Cal attack error made it 5-1. The Bruins' biggest lead was five, but the Golden Bears stayed within reach and closed the deficit to one at 16-15.

But UCLA would not let Cal get the equalizer, scoring three straight on a kill by Todorovic and back-to-back combo blocks by Gil, as she teamed up first with McGraw and then with freshman Rachael Kidder to make it 19-15. The Bruins' lead stayed between three and five for the rest of the set, as a solo block by Gil on their first match point gave them a 25-20 victory. Todorovic paced UCLA with five kills, McGraw and Sather each had four and Gil posted four blocks. The Bruins out-hit the Golden Bears .294 to .132.

The Golden Bears got their first lead of the match to open the second set, but their biggest advantage would be just one on three different occasions. Trailing 4-3, the Bruins scored five of six to go up 8-5 and never trailed for the rest of the set. Sather began the run with a kill and teamed up with Sage on a block, while a Cal attack error made it 6-4. Following a Golden Bears' sideout, Cal served an error and a combo roof by Sather and Gil made it a three-point lead.

UCLA's lead never dipped below a pair. Up 17-14, the Bruins netted four in a row on a kill by Cook, a Todorovic ace, a Kidder kill and another ace by Todorovic to give them a set-high lead of seven at 21-14. On UCLA's third set point, Cook dumped one over the net to give the visitors a second straight 25-20 win. Cook and Gil each led the Bruins with three kills. In an outstanding offensive set, the Golden Bears held a slight .312 to .308 hitting advantage.

A close set to start the third turned in Cal's favor late to force the match into a fourth set. The Golden Bears held the lead early on until the Bruins grabbed their first advantage as part of a 5-1 run. Down 10-8, the Bruins received a Cal service error and a kill by McGraw to even the score at 10. The Bears sided out to re-take the lead, but a kill by Cook, a combo roof by Gil and Cook and a spike by McGraw gave the Bruins a two-point edge.

But it was all California after that, as the home squad scored six straight to go ahead 17-13. The Bruins could muster only three points for the rest of the set, as the Golden Bears won it 25-16. Cook, Gil, McGraw and Sage each had two kills in the third to lead the Bruins, who were out-hit .406 to .083.

The Golden Bears continued their momentum to start the fourth, jumping out to a 9-4 lead and forcing the Bruins into an early timeout. UCLA came back out of the break with four straight on a pair of Cal attack errors, a kill by McGraw and combo roof by Sage and McGraw to make it 9-8. Still down 12-9, the Bruins used a 5-1 run to take their first lead of the set at 14-13. Sage opened the run with a kill, which was followed by an ace by McGraw and a Cal attack error. After the Golden Bears sided out, Sather spiked one and an ace by Gera gave UCLA its first advantage of the set. The Bruins wouldn't trail for the rest of the fourth.

Cal tied it again at 14, 15 and 16, but the Bruins scored nine of the last 12 points of the match to win it 25-19. Tied at 16, a kill by McGraw and a Sage/McGraw combo block made it 18-16. Cal sided out the next point, but then served an error and a Sather kill gave UCLA a 20-17 edge. After another sideout, a kill by Sage, a Cal error and a block by Sage and freshman Mari Hole made it 23-18. Cal scored the next point, but consecutive kills by Sather gave the Bruins the match. Sage had five kills and three blocks in the finale, while Sather added four kills, as the Bruins out-hit the Bears .211 to .070.

Hana Cutura (15), Tarah Murrey (12) and Correy Johnson (10) all had double-figures in kills for Cal, which hit .214 as a team.

The Bruins conclude their trip to the Bay Area on Saturday when they face #4 Stanford at 7 p.m. Gametracker will be available on

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