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Another week of Pac-12 conference play, another week of looking to salvage the week with a split. One of the very few unranked opponent for the Bears in the schedule, a depleted Bears team (8-7, 2-3) will look to fend off Oregon State (12-4, 2-2). GO BEARS!
When: 7 PM PT
Score update: Cal Volleyball twitter (@CalVolleyball)
Not (yet) a fan of volleyball? Read my volleyball primer/Cal Volleyball preview.
On Wednesday, Bears lost to No.2 Oregon in 4 sets at home (or if you dwell on the positive, became the first Pac-12 conference team to take a set off Oregon) while, more importantly, also losing starter (and arguably best player other than Correy Johnson, who have already missed time early this year) Adrienne Gehan to a knee injury.
The commentators were talking about how the Bears probably can't field enough players to have quality practices (with season ending injuries already taking out RS Freshman Michelle Neumayer and starting libero Robin Rostratter and addition injury to Lillian Schonewise). Nevertheless, the season must go on and the Bears are again in the position where they need to a win to salvage the week.
Enters Oregon State, who despite their lofty record and pretty good resume, are not ranked (unlike Oregon on Wednesday and the Bears' opponents next week in USC and UCLA). Oregon State has defeated current No. 1 Penn State earlier this year while also pushing No. 14 Kansas State to 5 sets. In fact, by RPI, Oregon State are No.20 entering the week.
In the third set of the Oregon match, Bears did show the ability to play solid volleyball with great blocking. Without Gehan (and really even with her), true freshman from Croatia, Lara Vukasovic, recently featured in this Daily Cal article, needs to step up. Vukasovic hasn't got as much floor time yet this year as fellow freshmen Nikki Gombar and libero Mary McKennon. While it's easy to chalk this season up as a "rebuilding year", seniors Kate Brown, Shannon Hawari, and Correy Johnson do have great talent and experience and the healthy Bears youngsters are still a talented if inexperienced bunch. Bottomline, I'm starting to get a bit wary that the Bears may not be able to have a winning record this year. A win tonight against Oregon State is a great help toward that.