The Bears (10-6, 3-4) got off to a strong start, racing to a 7-2 lead in the first set and forcing a Washington timeout. Cal extended its advantage to 12-6 after a kill by sophomore middle blocker Lillian Schonewise.
But the Huskies (14-1, 6-1) gradually sliced into the deficit and finally tied the set up at 21-21. The teams traded points to make it 23-23, but a kill and a service ace allowed Washington to polish off the set.
The Huskies were the ones getting off to a fast start in the second set, assuming an 11-7 lead to force a Cal timeout. After Washington made it 16-11, the Bears scored four points in a row to trim it to 16-15. Cal was still only down 22-21 before three straight points gave Washington a commanding advantage.
The first half of the third set was tight, as it was tied at 14-14 midway through. But Washington scored six of the next eight points to open up a four point lead, and the Bears never got closer than a three-point deficit.
“All in all, I’m not sure our team performed consistently enough at a high enough level to beat a good team like this, but I think we’re good enough to beat a team like this,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “It’s a little frustrating.”
Freshman middle blocker Jenelle Jordan saw her most extensive playing time of the season, playing the third set and recording a kill. Sophomore Sarah Cole registered her first career kill in the third set.
Cal will next play at Washington State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“We have a couple days to get ready for Washington State, who is going to be out for blood, I’m sure,” Feller said. “Hopefully we can turn it around and get a split on the road.”