BOULDER, Colo. - Senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari had a career-high 17 kills, hit .696 and recorded eight blocks as Cal's women's volleyball team came back from a set down to defeat Colorado, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-11, 15-8 for its first Pac-12 victory of the season at the Coors Events Center on Saturday night.
Junior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan tied a career-high with 21 kills and added 15 digs. The Bears hit .338 as a team.
After losing the third set to fall behind, the Bears (7-5, 1-1) completely dominated the rest of the way. Receiving a boost from senior opposite Correy Johnson, who sat out the first three sets, Cal sprinted out to a 17-6 lead in the fourth set behind Gehan, who served eight points in a row. Hawari had five kills and three blocks in the set.
The Bears carried the momentum from the fourth set into the fifth when they scored the first three points on an ace by Joan Caloiaro and back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Christina Higgins. The Buffaloes got as close as 6-5, but the Bears answered with a four-point run, sparked by a pair of Gehan kills and one by Hawari. Cal easily cruised from there to the victory.
"The reality is the team actually started playing together as a team, which is always important," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "We're not one of the top teams in the conference right now. For us to get a road win, especially to come back, is big."
The Bears got the match off to a strong start, racing out to an 11-6 lead in the first set. But the Buffs came back and it was eventually tied at 20-20. Colorado (11-3, 1-1) then scored the next two points and held off the Bears.
The second set was close throughout. The Bears finally established some breathing room with three straight points to take a 21-18 advantage, but the Buffs scored three in a row of their own to even the set again. Hawari then took over, registering a pair of kills and a solo block to even the match.
The Bears had a 10-5 lead in the third set but Colorado scored five in a row to tie it. Cal eventually led 19-18 after a block by Nikki Gombar and Kat Brown, but the Buffs scored the next three points to go out in front for good.
Higgins and freshman opposite Lara Vukasovic added eight kills as the Bears hit at a season-high 338 clip.
"We have to get better at coming out hard and aggressive," Hawari said. "I feel like when we realize we have no other option, we play as hard as we can. I think we're still learning what our limits are and learning how good we can play. We just have to be better about consistently playing at that level."