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Cal spikers still looking for wins

By Tim Haran Daily Planet Correspondent
Monday October 30, 2000

Five is the magic number for the Cal (9-11, 4-9 Pac-10) women’s volleyball team. That’s the number of matches the Golden Bears need to win to guarantee a .500 season and to give the team a shot at NCAA Tournament play. 

But wins have eluded the Bears and its magic number has remained at five since Cal’s last victory over William & Mary College two weeks ago. Following the Bears’ loss to Arizona State (15-8, 7-6 Pac-10) Saturday at the RSF Fieldhouse, 16-14, 15-3 and 15-8, Cal has dropped four straight matches. Moreover, the Bears failed to win a single game in those four losses and have lost 16 of its last 19 games. 

“I think we tend to push the past out of our minds pretty well,” Cal coach Rich Feller said, dispelling any notion of decreasing morale due to the slump. “We look at every match and try to push to win.” 

Against ASU, Cal played without outside hitter Candace McNamee who is still recovering from an ankle injury she suffered earlier in the month. Caity Noonan posted a team-high 42 assists filling in for McNamee. Feller mixed up his lineup even more by playing freshman Jenna Grigsby who had previously seen action in just one game this season. 

“We had to mix it up to try and find some answers,” Feller said. “Grigsby did a spectacular job out there.” 

In fact, Cal seemed to have the first game well in hand, leading 7-3 before the Bears won four straight points on Grigsby’s serve. Leading 12-5, Cal lost 11 of the next 13 points and let the first game slip away. 

“We just weren’t consistent,” said Cal’s Reena Pardiwala, who contributed 12 kills and nine digs. “We need to go hard on every point.” 

The Bears dug themselves a deep hole in game two, falling behind 3-8 before the Sun Devils scored seven straight points. Cal kept pace with ASU during the first half of game three, but after freshman Gabrielle Abernathy’s kill tied the score at eight, the Sun Devils ran off the game’s final seven points. 

“There was a lack of focus and energy,” said Alicia Perry, who led the Bears with 17 kills and 18 digs. “We need to prepare mentally and go in thinking we can win every game.”  

Freshman outside hitter Ashleigh Turner sparked the Bears with seven kills and nine digs while playing on the left side of the court, opposite her normal position.  

“You can’t come into matches, make changes like that and expect the continuity to be there,” Feller said. 

Two of the Pac-10’s most prolific hitters squared off against each other Saturday. Cal’s Perry matched up against ASU’s Amanda Burbridge, who was named both Pac-10 and national player of the week for her combined 77 kills against the Washington teams last week. Burbridge leads the conference in kills and is tied with Perry for the lead in digs. 

Cal starts a three-match road trip this week with contests against Washington State on Nov. 2, Washington on Nov. 3 and Santa Clara on Nov. 7.