BERKELEY – Now the real work can begin.
The No. 23 Cal women’s volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, falling to Kansas State 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9 at the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational at Haas Pavilion. The Bears (7-1), who hadn’t dropped a set in sweeping each of their first seven matches, now have the experience of figuring out what to correct for the first time in 2013.
“A few of our weaknesses were exposed that haven’t been in the past,” said senior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan, who led the Bears with 18 kills and a career-high 18 digs. “I think that’s a good thing to see and learn from now as opposed to a little bit later. We needed to be pushed and they definitely pushed us. They played a really good game. As long as we learn from this, it will make us better in the future.”
The Bears won the first set rather easily, extending their set winning streak to 22 to begin the season. But the Wildcats, who received 31 votes in this week’s AVCA Top 25 to be ranked 31st nationally, took advantage of a rash of Cal errors during the next two sets to take the lead.
The Bears were able to force the fifth set before the Wildcats finally put things away.
“We were a little flat,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “We really never got into sync. We made way too many unforced errors. We hadn’t done that all year. Kansas State is an awfully good team. You can’t give them easy points. It’s pretty tough to recover from that against a really good team.”
Junior Lindsey Parrott recorded 14 kills and four blocks in her first career start in place of injured opposite hitter Christina Higgins. Sophomore middle blocker Lara Vukasovic also had 14 kills and four blocks.
“We’re going to learn from this,” Feller said. “We’re a very good team. We’re not yet a great team. We have had a great preseason so far. This is a little blip.”
Gehan, Vukasovic and setter Joan Caloiaro were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Cal next plays at UC Davis on Thursday at 7 p.m.