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CU volleyball drops closest match in team history to No. 15 Cal

Buffs lose in five sets

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BERKELEY, Calif. — Colorado women’s volleyball took No.15 Cal to the wire in a five-set (25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-27, 16-14) 3-2 grudge match, eventually falling in the closest five-set match in school history Sunday.

The Buffaloes (8-10, 0-8 Pac-12) came back after going down 0-2 in the first two sets to force Cal (17-1, 7-1 Pac-12) to a fifth set where the teams were tied up at 14 all before the Golden Bears finished it with a pair of back-to-back points.

“First of all I’m proud of our effort and I thought we played well enough to put ourselves in a position to win a match on the road against a very good team,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I thought both teams played extremely well. In the first set we had 11 unforced errors and then after that we cleaned up our play.”

Both teams put on hitting displays, and Justine Spann was out front of the Colorado hitters with a career-high 27 kills while hitting .317. She committed eight errors in the match, five coming in the first set where she also had seven kills. She put the team on her back in the final two sets, combining for 13 kills while hitting .571 in the fourth and fifth set combined.

“Placement was key,” Spann said. “I am still disappointed we couldn’t get the win but I’m super proud of myself in that aspect of hitting.”
Freshman Elissa Alcantara also had a career-high with her first 20-point performance. She put down 19 kills with a .288 hitting percentage and added three blocks.

Both performances came off a career-high from setter Jenna Ewert who had 62 assists, 15 digs and five kills. Ewert dished out 10 kills to Sterling Parker, who was crucial in the third set with four kills and a .400 hitting percentage. She also got the middles going with Danielle Price hitting eight kills for a .438 hitting percentage while Meegan Hart had nine kills.

Cal came back to within one at 13-12 in the final set. Cal put down a kill to tie it up at 13 all, forcing Colorado into a timeout. Alcantara was called for an error on the next play, and with CU out of challenges the team called timeout down 14-13. The team went back to Alcantara and she tied it up with her 19th kill. Cal responded to match-point again, and then Cal finished it off on the next play.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was a combined effort across the board in the backrow, led by senior Rachel Whipple’s 25 digs. She led the team and was key to sending the match to a fifth set after she had nine digs in the fourth. Whipple was joined by Katie Lougeay who had a career-high 13 digs and Savannah Perry who had 11 digs. Price led the team with five block assists.

“Rachel had a great match,” Mahoney said. “Defensively she is doing some really high-level things. That was Katie’s second match back from injury. Good to see her out there playing and getting more comfortable. She did a really nice job. Defensively we did enough to give ourselves a chance we just couldn’t quite pull through.”

After the close loss the Buffaloes return home and look to continue on the upward trend against Washington and Washington State. Colorado takes on Washington State at 7 p.m. Thursday, then return against Washington at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Cal 3, Colorado 2

Colorado 23 22 26 27 14
California 25 25 24 25 16

Kills – CU: Spann, Justine (27), Alcantara, Elissa (19), Parker, Sterling (10); CAL: Haynes, Maddie (19), Mirkovic, Mima (19), Huizenga, Bailee (15)
Aces – CU: Spann, Justine (2), Whipple, Rachel (1), Hart, Meegan (1); CAL: Huizenga, Bailee (1), Bellizzi, Gabby (1), Blevins, Jade (1)
Blocks – CU: Price, Danielle (5), Alcantara, Elissa (3), Parker, Sterling (3); CAL: Forte, Lauren (6), Haynes, Maddie (3), Anderson, Preslie (3)
Assists – CU: Ewert, Jenna (62), Whipple, Rachel (5), Spann, Justine (1); CAL: Potter, Isabel (46), Blevins, Jade (26), Smith, Emma (8)
Digs – CU: Whipple, Rachel (25), Ewert, Jenna (15), Lougeay, Katie (13); CAL: Mirkovic, Mima (20), Smith, Emma (15), Potter, Isabel (11)