BERKELEY – Cal’s women’s volleyball team went toe-to-toe with the No. 7 team in the country Wednesday night but in the end came up just a few points short in a 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 28-26 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 opener for both teams at Haas Pavilion.
Senior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan had 19 kills and 16 digs for the Bears (7-3, 0-1) to lead four players in double-figures in kills. Sophomore middle blocker Lara Vukasovic had 12 kills while fellow sophomore middle blocker Lillian Schonewise recorded 11 kills and three blocks. Junior opposite hitter Christina Higgins had 11 kills as well.
After playing one of their best sets of the season in the first set, Cal played from behind for most of the second set. But after the Cardinal (8-2, 1-0) took a 23-18 lead, the Bears roared back to make it 24-23, forcing a Stanford timeout. The Cardinal’s Carly Wopat came up with a block to close out the set and even the match.
The Bears led for most of the first half of the third set, but Stanford went on a four-point run to turn a 15-12 deficit into a 16-15 advantage. Cal cut the deficit to 20-18 later in the set before the Cardinal scored three in a row to take control.
The fourth set was close throughout but Stanford eventually opened up a moderate 21-18 lead. The Cardinal then had match point at 24-21 only to see the Bears score four in a row to get match point themselves at 25-24. Stanford went back in front only to see Cal stave off one match point before finally closing things out.
The Cardinal only scored two more total points than the Bears for the match, 98-96.
“I thought we played really well,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “We stayed focus. We were in to the match the whole time. We kept fighting. That’s as well as we have played in a while. I’m pretty pleased with how it went, except for the final outcome.”
Gehan had eight of her kills in the fourth set, including three huge swings late in the fourth set that gave the Bears an opportunity to force a fifth set. She was blocked on the final two points of the match.
“I had a few hitting errors, but I was being really aggressive so I’m not going to get too mad at myself for those,” Gehan said. “I guess I got a little overconfident on those last two balls, but I would much rather go out swinging then be tentative.
The Bears have now lost three in a row after starting the season 7-0, but were encouraged by Wednesday’s performance.
“I think we played really consistently,” Gehan said. “If we keep working hard in practice and clean up a few little things, then we’re going to be a really good team.”
Cal is back in action Friday night against Arizona at Haas Pavilion at 8 p.m. The match will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.