In the sport of volleyball, losing in three straight sets is the worst way a team could lose. The Cal volleyball team knows this all too well, as it’s lost in three straight sets an astonishing 10 times this season.
This includes two recent losses this past weekend. The first lost came Friday against Oregon State (26-24, 25-16, 25-13), while the second loss came against Oregon on Sunday (25-23, 25-22, 25-19).
Lillian Schonewise led the Bears against the Beavers, finishing with a team-high 14 kills at a .591 hitting percentage. But no other Bears were close to reaching double digits in kills, hurting the team’s ability to win the game.
Oregon State, on the other hand, had both a well-balanced attack on both offense and defense, led by sophomore outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall. Marshall ended the day with a team-high nine kills at a .381 hitting percentage. Outside hitters Lanesha Reagan and Katelyn Driscoll followed closely behind, each finishing with eight kills apiece.
The Beavers ended the day with a total of 42 kills, leading the Bears by four kills.
The only close set of the match was the first one, which was very competitive all the way to the end. With the score tied, 24-24, Marshall stepped up for the Beavers when it counted, scoring a kill to make the score 25-24. The Bears then shot themselves in the foot, handing Oregon State the set off an attack error from freshman outside hitter Belen Castillo, losing the set, 26-24.
Cal’s second game of the weekend against the Ducks was much closer, but the Bears once again failed to score kills and close out sets when it mattered most. Junior middle blocker Jenelle Jordan entered this game with lots of energy, scoring a team-high 10 kills at a .500 hitting percentage.
Schoenwiese showed her consistency, ending the day with a total of nine kills at a .438 hitting percentage.
Still, the Ducks were just that much better in every step of the match. The Bears’ defense showed flaws throughout several points in the match, giving up a total of 56 kills. The only substantial defensive performance came from junior libero Maddy Kerr, who ended the day with a team-high 14 digs.
“I feel like we had a really solid game. We definitely played better in some areas than others,” Jordan said. “I think we were missing a little bit of our defense. It wasn’t our best defensive performance, so we need to pick it up.”
The Bears couldn’t find an answer for freshman outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide, who led the Ducks and finished the day with a team-high 15 kills at a .394 hitting percentage.
But the Bears fought back against Oregon’s offense in the first set, which was the closest Cal got to tasting victory.
With the score tied, 23-23, Schonewise made a fatal attack error, giving a match-point opportunity to the Ducks and making the score 24-23. Oregon’s sophomore outside hitter Frankie Shebby then took advantage of the opportunity, scoring the final kill to win the set, 25-23.
Even though the Bears eventually lost this match in three straight sets, they still made the Ducks work for every point they earned.
“I thought that we played pretty well. Offensively, we were very good, and our defense was tough,” said Cal head coach Rich Feller. “We executed a pretty good game plan for the most part, so today’s overall performance was pretty good.”
With only three weeks remaining in the regular season, Cal is nowhere close to making the first round of the NCAA Championships. But the Bears are still looking to end the year on a positive note and rack up as many Pac-12 wins as they can.
Alex Quintana covers volleyball. Contact him at [email protected]