Playing its third top 25 team in five matches, Santa Clara fell 3-0 at No. 23 Cal on Friday night as part of the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational. Game scores were 25-20, 25-22 and 25-17. Santa Clara is 4-4 and Cal remains undefeated at 7-0.
Santa Clara returns home on Saturday to host Cal Poly in its home opener at 2 pm. Kansas State defeated Cal Poly 3-1 earlier in the day.
"Adrienne Gehan and Christina Higgins had really good nights. Cal is really under-ranked at No. 23," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "I liked a lot of what we did. I thought at times we went toe to toe at a high level. We couldn't turn the momentum of the match and that hurt us."
Santa Clara hit .198 with 45 kills (22 e, 116 att.). The Broncos collected 45 assists, two service aces, seven service errors, 40 digs and three team blocks. Cal hit .361 with 44 kills (9 e, 97 att.). The Bears collected 43 assists, one service ace, three service errors, 49 digs and seven team blocks.
"We served them tough, but they did a nice job of not giving up runs to us," said Wallace.
Santa Clara was led individually by Taylor Milton's 13 kills. Alyssa Anderson had 40 assists and 11 digs. Nikki Hess collected nine kills and Haley Cameron scored eight, hitting .375. Danielle Rottman added 11 digs.
Cal was individually by Adrienne Gehan's 11 kills, hitting .357. Christina Higgins hit .400 with 10 kills. Joan Calolario collected four kills with 38 assists and eight digs.
Clayton opened the first set with a cross court kill to the back row. After a Cal sideout, the Bears hit it a mile out. Milton knocked it off the double block for a kill. Megan Anders and Hess teamed up to block the ball, but a cross-court kill gave the Bears a sideout. Milton scored again cross court, 5-2 Broncos. Matching points, SCU went up 8-6 on a kill by Anders. A Hess kill down the line gave SCU a sideout again, 9-7. Anders kill off the face of a Cal back row player put SCU back up 10-9. A kill by Milton off the block and SCU led 12-10. A Cameron-Hess team block was followed by a Bears sideout on a kill cross court. Cal took the lead on a kill and a Bronco hitting error. Cameron's rocket down the line tied it back up 14-14. Cal scored three times before Wallace whistled for time, down 17-14. Cameron smacked it off a lone blocker for a Bronco sideout. The Bears scored twice before a Hess kill off a team block gave SCU the ball for a brief second. Cal scored twice to move ahead 21-16. Timeout Broncos. The Broncos scored three of four on kills by Hess and Cameron and a Cal service error, 22-19 Cal. The Bears laced together three straight to win set one 25-20.
Cal started the second set by scoring five of the first six points. A Hess kill cross court stopped the bleeding. Three Cal errors sandwiched between a solo block by Cameron tied it up 6-6. Milton crushed two cross court kills between one by the Bears. The two teams had a long rally before a Clayton kill gave the Broncos the point and an error by Cal gave SCU an 11-10 lead. Gehen crushed one cross court to tie it up 11-11. Another Milton kill in the back row and an ace by Clayton made it 13-11 Broncos. Timeout Cal. A kill off the block by Higgins was matched by a Milton kill cross court again. Two of three Hess kills made it 16-14 Broncos. Two straight kills by Cal tied up 16-16. After a Milton error, SCU called for time down 17-16. Milton's kill on the touch out of the timeout knotted it up 17-17. A Cal kill and a Bronco error was followed by an Anders kill in the middle, 19-18. Vakasovic pushed it across the net for a kill, but Milton's kill off the double blockers pulled SCU within one again, 20-19. Clayton's serve was wide, but Milton's swing was money for a sideout, 21-20 Cal. Trading points, Caloiaro's dump put Cal up 23-21. Trading points again, a cross-court kill gave Cal set two 25-22.
Cal started off quick on a 3-1 run. A block by Clayton and a kill by Milton tied it up. Cal roared ahead 7-3 before SCU called for time. Milton's kill off the block was followed by Cal scoring six of the next eight points to move ahead 13-6. Cameron's kill off the single block gave SCU a sideout. An error by the Bears on a tough serve by Mary Shepherd made it 13-8 Bears. After two Bronco errors, Anders got way up for the ball to put it down in the donut and then Anderson scored an ace, 15-10 Cal. A dump by Cal's setter gave Cal the ball, but Cal served it way out. Cal scored three straight before Anders rocked the ball down for a sideout, 19-12 Cal. Cameron's swing into the backcourt gave SCU a sideout again, but Milton served it out. Cal crushed the ball in the backcourt to move ahead by nine, 22-13. A kill by Hess stopped the run. Clayton stopped a long rally with a kill for the Broncos. Santa Clara scored the sideout on a Clayton kill. A Bronco error gave Cal match point. Anders held it off on a kill off the slide. A kill by Cal gave Cal the third set and the match 25-17.
"We are learning to e a good team," added Wallace. "We need to learn to execute more over time. But we have the pieces to be very good."