MARIBOR, Slovenia – Senior opposite hitter Christina Higgins had 14 kills and four blocks but the Cal volleyball team was downed by the France Junior National Team on Wednesday, 32-30, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22, 15-9 at the Hotel Dras Sports Center.
It was the last match on the Bears’ European Tour, in which they went 2-4 against top-level club and international competition. Cal will stay in Europe for two more days to visit Zagreb, Croatia, the hometown of Cal middle blocker Lara Vukasovic.
Cal fell behind 11-3 in the first set but was able to stabilize things. With France leading 24-18, the Bears scored seven straight points to earn a set point behind strong serving from senior defensive specialist Marlee Davis. But the French team staved off set point and the teams traded sideouts until Cal finally fell.
The next three sets were close throughout and the deciding fifth set was also tight until France went on a run near the end to put things away.
Cal’s tour began in Montreux, Switzerland, where the Bears beat VBC Cheseaux – a first division pro team – in five sets. Cal then had a stirring victory in Milan, Italy over Club Italia, an Italian Volleyball Federation team made up of top youth and junior national team players. The Bears played Club Italia again the following night and lost in four sets.
Cal played three matches in Maribor, all against junior national teams. The Bears fell to Slovenia on Monday, China on Tuesday and France on Wednesday.
The Bears will depart for Zagreb on Thursday morning. Along with Vukasovic, former Cal All-American Hana Cutura also hails from Zagreb. The team will meet up with the Cutura family while visiting the city. Cal will return home on Saturday.