BERKELEY - The Cal women's volleyball team made its 2012 home debut Thursday night at Haas Pavilion and lost in four sets to Chinese club team Jiangsu in an exhibition match, 25-18, 15-15, 25-27, 25-14.
The Bears played Jiangsu as part of the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. Jiangsu, which features some of the top players in China, ended its tour of the West Coast against Cal. Jiangsu went 6-0 on its trip, beating No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 8 Stanford, No. 12 Pepperdine, Arizona and Cal.
Cal played Thursday without starting opposite Correy Johnson, who was resting after coming back last weekend from a stress reaction in her leg. The Bears also tinkered with their lineup, rotating Joan Caloiaro and Lindsey Parrott at setter. Freshman middle hitter Katarina Milosavljevic also saw her first action of the season. Lara Vukasovic started at opposite but played only two of the sets to rest a sore shoulder.
"The season is long. When it comes down to it, any one match isn't that important," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "That includes any match. If you need to rest somebody for a match for the betterment of the season, then you have to do it."
Yayun Chen, a member of China's Junior National Team, led Jiangsu with 17 kills. Jiangsu hit .418 as a team and came up with 51 digs.
"It's a little bit frustrating because there is no way we can ever practice for what they do," Feller said. "You can hit your best shot and it's an easy dig for them." Jiangsu was in control for most of the first two sets but the third set was close throughout. The Bears lost a 23-20 lead but never fell behind. With the score tied 25-25, Jiangsu's Jing Ren uncorked a service error. Caloiaro then served up an ace to give the Bears the win.
"There's no way we can replicate what they do in practice," Feller said. "Because of that, I think at times it looked like we weren't competing. But when I really look at it, I think we competed pretty hard."
The Bears resume playing in matches that count Friday when they open the Cal Molten Classic at Haas Pavilion. UC Riverside takes on Northern Arizona at 5 p.m. followed by Cal vs. Penn at 7 p.m. There are four more matches on Saturday.