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Golden Medals: Are Cal victories in Big Splash & Big Freeze an omen of a Big Game win?

Cal Men’s Cross Country and Bethan Knights to race in NCAA Championships on Saturday

Cal Ice Hockey defeated Stanford 15-1 in the 2016 Big Freeze
Cal Ice Hockey Facebook page

Cal is victorious in Big Freeze and Big Splash

Let’s start this week off by giving some love to a Cal club sport. One of the more prominent Cal club sports has got to be Cal Ice Hockey. The Big Freeze, the annual contests between the club sports of Cal and Stanford, is even mentioned in Wikipedia as a part of the Cal-Stanford rivalry. Although the club no longer plays locally (R.I.P. Berkeley Iceland), the club is still going strong playing at the Oakland Ice Center.

Check out the size of the trophy that goes to the winner of the Big Freeze. That’s one big trophy.

As you can read from the text in the tweet, the Golden Bears were victorious on Thursday night when they dominated Stanford in a 15-1 rout.

The match was streamed (and recorded for posterity) via YouTube. You can watch the Cal dominance through this link.

Since their Ice Hockey club team performance doesn’t impact their Director’s Cup standings, Stanford hasn’t been very good in Ice Hockey for awhile. While Arizona State has recently added a Division 1 Ice Hockey program (ASU is somehow the only athletic department that is getting a ton of donor money and expanding), don’t expect to see Cal nor Stanford move toward having a Div 1 Ice Hockey team anytime soon.

The Big Freeze win comes toward the end of the Big Game week. Last Saturday, Big Game week kicked off with a 11-10 Cal victory in Men’s Water Polo. Golden Bears retain the Steve Heaston trophy for winning the Big Splash.

Relive the highlights of the Big Splash - the match wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.

Cal senior goalkeeper Lazar Andric set a career high for saves in a match.

Postseason starts today (essentially) for Cal Men’s Water Polo when they take on UCLA in the MPSF semifinal at 4:30 PM PT today. The match will be streamed online. Be on the look out for a separate preview of that match where I will also update on the game via the comment section.

With the Big Splash and Big Freeze victories so far this week, what does this say about Cal Football’s chance in the Big Game (because all of these are connected). Unfortunately, we only have to look back at 2015 for an example when Cal Men’s Water Polo (13-8) and Ice Hockey (16-0) were both victorious. The 2015 Big Game wasn’t necessarily one that we need to recall...

Cal Cross Country in NCAA Cross Country National Championship

Thanks to a 6th place team finish in the NCAA West Regional last weekend, Cal Men’s Cross Country has earned another spot in the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the 2nd straight year. Robert Brandt and Trent Brendel finished 12th and 16th to pace the Golden Bears.

On the female side, Bethan Knights (who missed last year’s XC NCAA Regional) is also returning to the NCAA Cross Country Championship for the first time since 2014. Knights finished 8th overall at the Women’s NCAA West Regional. Knights finished 25th overall at the 2014 NCAA Championship.

Cal fans can watch an online stream of the NCAA XC championships, taking place yet again in Terre Haute, Indiana, via the link in the following tweet. Women’s 6K starts at 8 AM PT while Men’s 10K starts at 9 AM PT.

Cal Volleyball looks to finish year strong in final 4 matches

Long time readers know that I am a huge Cal Volleyball fans. Unfortunately, I just have not got around to watch too many matches this year or write too much about them. With Cal Field Hockey, Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Soccer all done for the year, let’s take a closer look at the Cal Volleyball weekend down in Arizona.

Cal Volleyball (9-17, 3-13 in Pac-12) will play at Arizona today at 3:30 PM PT before facing ASU on Saturday at 6 PM PT. Golden Bears will then return to Haas next week to close out the year against Oregon State on Wednesday at 3 PM PT before ending the year down at The Farm for the road Big Spike on Friday at 5 PM PT. While only the Big Spike will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks, all three other matches will be streamed live online.

Should she build upon her vast improvements this year, 2016 Cal Volleyball season (on the court) will be remembered as when redshirt sophomore Ashten Smith-Gooden showed her potential (off the court, I think we will all remember the Savannah Rennie return to Div 1 volleyball 5 months after liver transplant). Smith-Gooden is 2nd on the team in kills per set with 2.67 behind junior Christine Aftin. Smith-Gooden’s hitting percentage of 0.223 is much better than that of Aftin (0.165).

Aftin did an interview with CalTV recently - she gave shoutouts to her former teammate Christina Higgin and roommate Emily Boyd of Cal Women’s Soccer.

The senior trio of Janelle Jordan in the middle (0.297 hitting percentage), Alyssa Jensen running the show (10.47 assists per set), and Maddy Kerr in the backline (3.96 digs per set) will unfortunately close out their career without another trip to the NCAA tournament. The Bears were last in the NCAA tournament in 2013 - their freshman year.

By the way, in her weekly blog post, Maddy Kerr talks a bit about this being the end of her volleyball career (I guess she is not going the route of playing in Europe while modeling on the side...which was a fairly common post college route for many Pac-10/12 volleyball athletes).

This is my very last road trip as a college athlete. It is definitely a weird feeling. Every senior class that I've had as my teammates has tried to describe this feeling in the past, and nobody can really do it justice. For me, it is less about ending my Cal volleyball career, and more about ending my volleyball career. I've played this sport since I was 10years old. I've worked harder at it, put in more time and energy, than anything else in my life, period. Hands down. It is sad and exciting at the same time. It's sad because I'm going to miss playing the sport, and the adrenaline rush that comes with competing. But, it's exciting because I'm ready to move on to something new.

Good luck to the Media Studies and Rhetoric double major on her future endeavors. Kerr has been the one constant on Cal Volleyball since her freshman year. Her 1723 career digs is good for 2nd in program history behind Jillian Davis’ 1810. Depending on whether the Bears can stretch these matches to 4-5 sets apiece, it is still plausible for Maddy Kerr to surpass Davis (who is now an actor/comedian).

Alyssa Jensen is currently 6th in assist in Cal program history. Jensen has missed the past two matches (against the LA school) with a foot injury, however. Sophomore Mackenzie Albrecht has earned the starts in her place.

While I know that most students will be home for Thanksgiving, the Cal seniors deserve a great Senior Day sendoff next Wednesday afternoon in their final home match at Haas.

Looking toward the future, Cal has added a pair of top 50 recruits for next year.

Maybe they will be the missing elements for Cal Volleyball to return to prominence. Welcome to the Cal Family to Preslie and Lauren - a pair of Arizona natives.