BERKELEY – Now that the novelty of a brand new program is wearing off, Cal’s sand volleyball team is starting to feel like any other sports team on campus.
And the competitive juices were flowing at the Clark Kerr Sand Courts on Friday, as the Bears and USF played five tight matches before the Dons edged Cal 3-2.
Cal’s No. 2 team of of sophomores Lara Vukasovic and Sarah Cole remained unbeaten this season with a 21-16, 16-21, 15-11 victory over USF’s Malina Terrell and Jurja Vlasic, 21-16, 16-21, 15-11. The Bears (1-2) also scored a victory in the No. 4 spot when sophomore Katarina Milosavljevic and freshman Sabrina Blackwell got by USF’s Anja Segota and Rebecca Kopilovitch, 22-20, 19-21, 15-6.
The Bears’ No. 5 team of freshmen Caroline Olson and Emily Lunt lost a heartbreaker to Emily Reed and Inbar Vinarsky, 16-21, 21-19, 15-13.
“Losing a match is not fun ever, but we were two points away with our No. 5 team from winning the match,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “That’s how close we were to winning a pretty tough match. From here on out, preseason is sort of over now. We have to win as many matches as possible. There is going to be some serious competition.”
Cal’s No. 3 team of sophomore Nikki Gombar and freshman Maddy Kerr lost two hotly contested sets to USF’s Katarina Pilepic and Courtney Sabahi, 22-20, 21-19. The Bears’ No. 1 team of seniors Adrienne Gehan and Joan Caloiaro fell to the Dons’ Valentina Zaloznik and Sara Staengle, 21-16, 21-18.
“I think we’re getting better and better every time,” Feller said. “We’re playing the sand volleyball game much better. We’re going to keep getting better.”
Vukasovic and Cole are now 3-0 this season, and Friday marked the first match in which they dropped a set. Feller said there will be competition at practice to see if Cole and Vukasovic can supplant Gehan and Caloiaro as the Bears’ No. 1 team.
“They’re doing really well,” Feller said. “I think they have a lot of talent.”
Blackwell had 17 kills, 23 digs and seven aces while Caloiaro had 19 kills. Milosavljevic finished with 13 kills and 11 digs. Kerr, Gombar and Olson had 12 kills apiece. Gombar also had 19 digs.
The Bears are now off until April 4, when they travel to the South Bay to take on rival Stanford.