The Bears are back with a newfound determination.
After being handed their first loss last weekend, the Cal women’s volleyball team is gearing up for its final game of nonconference play. The Bears are traveling to UC Davis to take on the Aggies on Thursday at 7 p.m. in The Pavilion.
The Bears (7-1) have dropped out of the Top 25 AVCA Coaches Poll after suffering a loss to Kansas State in five sets. After losing to the Wildcats, the main problem Cal has to deal with is the number of errors committed in the game.
The Bears had 27 errors over the course of five sets in their loss against Kansas State last weekend and dug themselves into a deep hole when Kansas State capitalized on their mistakes.
“We had a lot of errors in the last game, so we’re just focusing on cleaning that up,” said senior Adrienne Gehan. “We saw that a lot of us were being undisciplined with our blocks, and we were leaving early.”
Viewing Kansas State as just a bump in the road, Cal is looking to use the game against the Aggies to refocus and reclaim some of the momentum of the first half of the preseason leading up to next week’s Big Spike.
The Bears were able to breeze through the first half of the preseason, but after falling to Kansas State last weekend, Cal finally has something to work on. The focus against UC Davis on Thursday will be to get back the fluid passing and tight defense that allowed Cal to avoid errors and have success in the first half of the preseason.
For the Bears, passing helps to open up opportunities for the offense, especially the middle hitters. Good passing also helps the defense by allowing it to get into the correct position.
“There’s a determined focus in practice now,” Gehan said. “I think we focused on the things that needed to be addressed. We just really focused on passing. We kind of let up a little against Kansas State, so we’ve been working on that.”
As the only player on the team for four consecutive years, Gehan is the only Bear who has faced UC Davis before. The senior ranks fourth in the Pac-12 and 24th nationally, with 4.23 kills per set. Hitting .347, the Bears’ captain is also ranked 12th in the country among outside hitters. Gehan was a pick for the Preseason All-Pac-12 Team this season.
Also leading the Bears on the offensive end is sophomore Lara Vukasovic, who is embracing her new role as middle blocker. Vukasovic ranks sixth in the Pac-12, with a .429 hitting percentage.
Although in the previous game these two offensive workhorses led the team in kills, the errors the Bears made prevented them from claiming a win.
With just one game Thursday, the Bears have had plenty of time to shake off the disappointment of their first loss. The only thing Cal has to worry about now is finishing off the preseason with a win against the Aggies.
Alicia Fong covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected].