STANFORD, Calif. - In a match that became more and more competitive with each passing set, Cal's women's volleyball team didn't have quite enough and fell to No. 6 Stanford 25-17, 25-17, 28-26 in the Pac-12 opener in front of 2,011 at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Bears had set point in the third set and staved off two Stanford match points before finally succumbing.
"Stanford played a great match. Take nothing away from them," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "But the frustrating thing is they did exactly what we knew they were going to do. They played the way we knew they were going to play. We had some part of our game plan in place to take care of it, but we didn't execute. That was the frustrating part."
The Cardinal got off to a quick start in the first set, racing out to a 6-1 lead. Stanford slowly extended that advantage to lead 15-6. The Bears got back within 20-15 but would get no closer in the set.
The Bears prevented the Cardinal from getting off to a fast start in the second set, staying close at 5-5 after a kill by Higgins. But Stanford scored four points in a row to break the deadlock and gradually started to pull away. Higgins had back-to-back kills to cut the Cardinal's advantage to 19-13, but that's as close as the Bears would get in the second set.
The third set was extremely competitive as neither team established more than a three-point lead at any time. With the score knotted at 19-19, the teams proceeded to exchange points back and forth. Stanford had match point at 24-23, but a service error by the Cardinal's Morgan Boukather and a kill by Gehan gave the Bears match point at 25-24. A service error by Marlee Davis tied it once again, and the Bears staved off one more match point before finally falling.
"In set three, we were right there with a chance to win," Feller said. "We know we were right there with them. It may have been a different outcome if we did that from the beginning."
The Bears continue their five-match road trip Saturday when they visit Colorado at 6 p.m. PT.