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Cal shakes off slow start to beat WMU

By Tim Haran Daily Planet Correspondent
Saturday October 14, 2000

The Cal women’s volleyball team defeated William & Mary Friday in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the RSF Fieldhouse, 16-14, 13-15, 15-11 and 15-7. 

Judging by the number of people that showed up at 8 p.m., ready for the homecoming rally scheduled to follow the match, Cal fans didn’t think the non-conference affair against a .500 Tribe team would last as long as it did. 

Slow starts in each of the match’s four games caused the Bears (9-7) to play catch-up most of the night. 

The Bears dropped the first six points of the opening game and were trailing 10-3 when sophomore outside hitter Leah Young’s kill gave Cal a side-out. The Bears went on to win 13 of the next 17 points on their way to victory. 

"We came out kind of slow," said Cal outside hitter Reena Pardiwala, who tallied 12 kills and eight digs on the night. "It might have been because it wasn’t a Pac-10 match." 

That’s no excuse for Cal coach Rich Feller. Following the Bears’ loss in the second game, he scolded his team for their sloppy play.  

"I don’t even want to tell you what I told them at halftime," Feller said after the match."I was disappointed about the emotional letdown because it wasn’t a Pac-10 match. We didn’t have to let that happen." 

Still, the second game was Cal’s strongest opening of the night. They rattled off six straight points before William & Mary (9-8) recovered and scored eight of the next nine. The game was tied four times before the Tribe finally won on a Bear error. 

But Cal starting quickly is the exception rather than the rule. Even in Pac-10 matches this year, Cal has had a tendency to start sluggishly. In their Oct. 10 contest against Stanford, the Bears trailed 3-12, 1-5, and 0-4 in Game 3 as the Cardinal swept Cal in three straight games. 

Senior outside hitter Alicia Perry once again led the Bears with 20 kills on 43 attempts while committing just three errors against William & Mary. She also contributed 20 digs, bringing her to within nine of being only the fourth Cal player ever to record more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She leads the Bears in both categories this season. 

"We went into the locker room (after the second game) and decided we had to work harder," Perry said. "We take every match serious, but we had to come out with a different attitude." 

After setting her career high for kills last week against Washington, Cal’s Gabrielle Abernathy struggled throughout much of the match against the Tribe. Pounding out 13 kills, the freshman outside hitter also drove an equal number of balls either into the net or off the court. In Cal’s second-game loss, Abernathy spiked the ball into the top of the net four times and sent another one long on the Tribe’s game point. 

Cal recovered in the next two games with strong efforts by Pardiwala, Perry, Young and a revived Abernathy.  

"A bright spot was that we had some consistency," Feller said. "We got what we expected from Alicia and held together until the others started playing." 

For what the Bears lack in opening strength, they make up for in a killer instinct for closing out games. In the third game, Cal scored the game’s last four points, and followed that by rallying from a 1-4 deficit to win 14 of the final 17 points in the final game. 

The Bears head south next week to face USC (Oct. 19) and UCLA (Oct. 20). Both teams defeated Cal earlier in the season. The team returns home on Oct. 27 for a match against Arizona.