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Golden Medals: Cal Volleyball evens Pac-12 record, Field Hockey wins 6 straight

And other Cal Olympic Sports news.

Cal Volleyball has plenty to be excited about after evening their Pac-12 record by sweeping the Arizona schools last weekend.
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Big match for Cal Men’s Soccer this Sunday when the Bears host rival Stanford at Edwards Stadium at 3 pm PT (match is also on the Pac-12 Networks). Cal Men’s Soccer is coming off a highly successful week of earning two big road wins at the SoCal schools (UCLA and SDSU for men’s soccer). My preview of that match (I even guessed a score!) will be up on Sunday at noon.

Cal Volleyball (11-4, 2-2 in Pac-12)

After opening Pac-12 play against two ranked teams on the road and losing in straight sets, Cal Volleyball needed to take advantage of hosting unranked opponent at Haas Pavilion last weekend. Taking advantage indeed, the Golden Bears were able to defeat Arizona State in straight sets then take out Arizona in a thrilling 5 setter to even their Pac-12 record.

Cal 3, Arizona State 0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19)

In one of the most dominant match of the season, Golden Bears had little problem against a good but not great ASU Sun Devils squad. Emma Smith took over the libero position for the first time and posted 22 digs (a record for a debut in a 3 setter). Bears were able to hold ASU to a 0.115 hitting percentage for the match.

Antzela Dempi led the way with 9 kills and 2 aces while Carmen Annevelink and Christina Alftin added 8 and 6 respectively. Isabel Potter and Mackenzie Albrecht continue to split the duty as the setter for the Cal offense.

Cal 3, Arizona 2 (25-19, 25-20, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11)

On #SavStrong day to honor teammate Savannah Rennie, Bears continue the hot play from earlier in the weekend to take the first two sets. After two uncharacteristic sets (this is a young team after all), the Bears bounced back and relatively easily took the deciding 5th set.

Mima Mirkovic and Dempi had 12 and 11 kills, respectively, but it was the Cal dominance in the block (14 to Arizona’s 6) that made the difference. Freshman Preslie Anderson had 9 blocks to the lead the way for the Bears.

It was an emotional match for the Bears to win this one for their teammate and friend in Rennie, who had complications in the form of non-hodgkin lymphoma after a liver transplant last summer. It appears that Rennie is well on her path to recover from this second medical scare.

It is back on the road for the Bears this weekend as they travel to the Oregon schools. Bears take on Oregon State (10-6, 0-4 in Pac-12) tonight (7pm PT on Pac-12 Networks) before Oregon (9-3, 2-2 in Pac-12) on Sunday (2pm PT with free online stream). Both are winnable matches that will go a long way to determine if the Golden Bears are ready to return to the NCAA big dance this December.

Cal Women’s Soccer (9-2-1, 2-1-1 in Pac-12)

Golden Bears’ Pac-12 hope took a big hit last weekend when the team was only able to get a draw at home against two unranked opponents in the Arizona schools. While the Bears are still in the race for Pac-12 crown (the path to which involved the very tough road gauntlet at the end of the season against the other California schools, all ranked in the top 10 in the nation), the Bears again dropped some valuable points in a mid-season match against unranked opponents.

Cal 0, Arizona 1

In the 75th minute, Arizona’s Jada Talley was able to deposit a rebound into the back of the net for the lone goal of the match, snapping Cal’s 7 match unbeaten streak (the winning streak was stopped at 6 matches after a draw to ASU on the previous Thursday). Bears were actually outshot by the Wildcats, 16 to 13, particularly with shot on goal (9 to 4).

Cal 1, Colorado 0

Last year, the uncharacteristic loss that the Bears suffered at home came at the hand of the Colorado Buffalos. After a furious comeback to send the match to OT, Buffs scored with seconds to go in the 2nd OT to take that match.

This year, the Bears took advantage of a Buffs injury to score the lone goal of the match in the first half. With the Buffs defense in disarray after the temporary injury to one of their defender, Kayla Fong found Kailee Gifford for a nice strike in front of the net.

Bears will next visit Utah (5-5-2, 0-3-1) on Sunday at 1pm PT (on the Pac-12 Networks) before returning to Berkeley next week to host the Washington schools.

Cal Field Hockey (7-3, 2-0 in American East)

Make that a 6-match winning-streak for Cal Field Hockey after the Bears earned their 2nd conference win of the season with a 3-2 victory at UC Davis. Bears improve to a very impressive 5-0 record away from Berkeley.

Cal 3, UC Davis 2

Freshman Megan Rodgers scored two goals in the first 7 minutes of this match and the Bears never looked back. Melina Moore added a penalty conversion in the 2nd half before the Aggies found a goal to get within 1.

Bears outshot the Aggies 22 to 6, 14 to 2 with shots on goal.

Plenty of the Cal success this year can be attribute to the new offense, centered around freshman Megan Rodgers. Rodgers leads the conference in points (26) and goals (12).

Back on the East Coast (more the mid-west but the Eastern time zone) for the 3rd time this season, Bears will take on Penn State and Ohio State from Columbus, Ohio this weekend on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Penn State (10-2, 3-1 in B1G) is the much tougher opponent of the two although the Ohio State record (6-5, 0-3 in B1G) may be deceiving given how good that conference is in this sport. It would be very interesting to see how the Bears compare to these two schools this weekend (Bears opened the year with a close 0-2 loss to a top 5 ranked Syracuse squad).

Cal Cross Country - women’s ranked 24th

In the first real test of the season, Bears earned national notices with strong performances. Competing at two different meets, but let’s focus on the bigger one at South Bend, Indiana, the Bears placed 7th overall for both the men and the women against some of the best programs in the country.

On the women’s side, the Golden Bears earned the 24th ranking in the country thanks to the brilliant performance of senior Bethan Knight and freshman Brie Oakley.

Knight and Oakley finished 5th and 12th overall in the stacked field. Cal Women’s XC expects to make it to the NCAA as a team this year.

On the men’s side, the Bears finished ahead of ranked teams such as Washington State. Senior Trent Brendel led the way with the 12th overall finish.

The next big race for the Bears will be in two weeks at Wisconsin (while part of the squad will race at Santa Clara).

Cal Men’s Water Polo (13-1)

After placing 3rd at the Mountain Pacific Invite two weekend ago, the Bears have ramped up their intensity in training. Bears had an easy win on Wednesday over Santa Clara via a 21-9 final score.

Yet, senior captain Luca Cupido was fairly critical of the Cal defense in the post match interview. Cupido, of course, played a big role in leading the Cal Bears to win the 2016 NCAA Championship.

It’s great to see the Bears stay this hungry. Bears will host UC Irvine and San Jose State next weekend before a key test (and MPSF match) begins with a trip to UCLA on October 21st.