LOS ANGELES - The first two sets on Friday each went overtime and featured 39 ties and 11 lead changes, but the 16th-ranked Bruins dropped the first 28-26 and the second 31-29 before falling 25-14 in the third to California at Pauley Pavilion.
Junior Karsta Lowe paced the Bruins (9-5, 0-4 Pac-12) with 13 kills, while sophomore Karly Drolson added 15 digs. Junior Monica Stauber (20 assists, nine digs) and freshman Jordan Robbins (18 assists, six digs) set for the Bruins, who hit .217 as a team. Senior Kelly Reeves recorded nine kills and six digs, freshman Claire Felix added nine kills and redshirt freshman Haley Lawless posted five kills.
The first set featured 16 ties and three lead changes, as the opener went into overtime. Cal (9-3, 2-1 Pac-12) raced out to an early 7-3 lead before UCLA matched that run on two kills by Reeves, a kill apiece from Felix and junior Zoë Nightingale, a Lawless ace and two Bear errors to even the score at 10. Trailing 15-14, back-to-back kills by Felix gave the Bruins their first lead since 1-0. UCLA’s largest lead of the opening set was a pair at 19-17 and 23-21.
UCLA earned its first set point at 24-23, but Cal saved it. A Felix kill gave the Bruins a second set point, but the Golden Bears scored two in a row to go ahead 26-25 and earn their first set point. A Cal attack error saved that one for UCLA, but the visitors would score the last two of the set to take the opener 28-26. Felix and Lowe each had five kills to pace the Bruins in the first, while Reeves added four. The Bruins out-hit the Golden Bears .429 to .400.
As close as the opening set was, the second stanza was even closer, with 23 ties and eight lead changes to go into overtime again. Neither team led by more than three points. Tied at nine, the Bruins scored three in a row on a Nightingale kill, a Reeves ace and a Lawless/Nightingale combo block to go up 12-9. California responded with a 5-1 run to go ahead 14-13. Down 15-14, the Bruins scored three straight on kills by Felix and Reeves and a Cal attack error to go ahead 17-15.
Cal re-took the lead at 21-20, and six sideouts later, the Golden Bears had their first of four set points, but back-to-back Reeves kills at 24 and 25-all and a pair of Lowe kills at 26 and 27-all kept things going. A solo block from Lawless gave the Bruins their first set point, but Cal saved it. A kill by senior Mariana Aquino earned a second set point for UCLA, but Cal netted the next three to win the second 31-29. Lowe led the Bruins with six kills, while Lawless and Reeves added three each. Drolson posted five digs, as the Bruins were out-hit .292 to .209.
UCLA’s only lead in the third was 1-0, as Cal scored the next two and never trailed for the rest of the set. With the score 10-7, the Golden Bears went on a 12-1 run to go ahead 19-8. UCLA scored three in a row on a kill by sophomore Maddy Klineman, a Cal attack error and an Aquino/Klineman combo to get the home squad to within eight, but the margin would get no closer, as Cal scored six of the last nine points to take the third 25-14. Felix had three kills and Drolson added six digs in the third, as the Bears out-hit the Bruins .267 to .054.
The Bruins are on the road for the next four matches, starting Friday at Oregon at 8 p.m. The contest will be televised live on ESPNU.