Sept. 2, 2012
The Bears (1-3) have lost three in a row since beating Delaware in their season-opener, but have been in position to win each of their three losses. In addition to their five-set loss to San Diego State, the Bears lost in three sets to Baylor on Friday, but each set was decided by two points.
"We scrapped. We fought. We were not really pretty, but we made some plays happen," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "It was hard to get into a rhythm. There were a lot of ebbs and flows. It comes down to stepping up and making a great play when you have to make a great play. We had some of those and then we didn't have some of those."
Correy Johnson, getting her first start of the season coming back from a stress reaction in her leg, led Cal with 17 kills and seven digs. Christina Higgins added 14 kills and four blocks and Shannon Hawari had 13 kills and a .476 hitting percentage.
Staring libero Robin Rostratter missed her fourth straight match to begin the season with a groin injury, as did backup middle hitter Lillian Schonewise (shoulder). The Bears also lost outside hitter Michelle Neumayr to a torn anterior cruciate ligament before the season started.
"The big factor with our injuries has been our training," Feller said. "We haven't trained as much because we're low on numbers. We can't scrimmage as much as we'd like to. There are a lot of reasons that are keeping us down and not quite performing to the level we want."
The first set was tied at 21-21 before Adrienne Gehan and Johnson registered back-to-back kills to take a two-point lead. After a USF kill, the Bears closed it out on a service error and hitting error by the Dons.
The Dons (4-2) led most of the second set, although the Bears had it tied at 14-14. But USF scored seven of the next nine points to take a 21-16 advantage and finished things off to even the match.
The Bears trailed 19-13 in the third set but stormed back to cut the deficit to 22-21 after a service ace by freshman Nikki Gombar. However, Cal would get no closer. Cal seized the momentum in the fourth set. After trailing 14-13, the Bears roared back to lead 23-17. Higgins had three kills during the comeback and Cal polished the set off to force the fifth and deciding set.
The Bears got off to a quick 3-0 start to the fifth set and later led 8-5. But the USF scored five straight points to take the lead and never let it go. Cal finishes play at the Wahine Volleyball Classic on Sunday with a matchup against No. 6 Hawaii.
"Tomorrow is the one against the team we're not supposed to beat," Feller said. "Maybe that will ease some of the pressure and we'll play loose, and win or lose, we'll look like Cal."