TEMPE, Ariz. – Cal’s women’s volleyball team had to play without both of its starting outside hitters and team captains Wednesday and couldn't overcome a slow start in a 25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 25-15 loss at .Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena.
Sophomore Sarah Cole received her first career start at outside hitter while junior Christina Higgins moved from opposite to outside hitter to replace Gehan. Freshman Jenelle Jordan also received her second straight start at middle blocker in place of Lara Vukasovic, who returned from a one-match absence because of a sprained ankle and played opposite.
"I was a litlte disappoitned with the way we started the match regardless of the new faces that were in there," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "Regardless of the diminished leadership of the known leaders out there, I was disappointed with the level of individual play that combined into a level of team play that wasnt' very emblematic of Cal Volleyball."
The Bears fell behind significantly in each off the first two sets but started to stabilize things near the end of the second set. That momentum carried over into the third set when Cal upped its level of play and forced the fourth frame.
"I'm extremely pleased with the way they seemed to pull it together in game three," Feller said. "We really looked like a solid volleyball team. We didn't have the same kind of firepower we are used to or maybe the same kind of consistency at other parts of our game, but we played well and we played hard. We played Cal volleyball.
"I would have been very happy if we continued to play that way or started that way."
The Sun Devils raced out to a 9-2 lead in the fourth set and cruised the rest of the way to close out the match.
Higgins led the Bears (17-11, 10-9 Pac-12) with 21 kills and junior defensive specialist Marlee Davis had a career-high 22 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Lillian Schonewise added 12 kills and Cole had 10.
The Bears will close out the regular season Friday at No. 3 Stanford at 6 p.m. The match will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
"We're excited to get back to work and have a big match coming up at Stanford," Feller said. "We get to test ourselves against one of the very best teams in the country. I think we will have at least one, if not two, players back. Lara should be stronger. Hoepfuflly we will come back and play stronger."