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Golden Medals: Streaking Cal Softball faces No.1/3 Florida; Tennis with big wins

Cal Women’s Water Polo challenged but still 4th best. Cal Beach Volleyball season kicks off this weekend.

Cal Softball has had a great start to their season
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Cal Softball on a 10 game win streak, face No.3/1 Florida among others this weekend

No.23/18 Cal Golden Bears (13-1) continues to win despite hitting 0 homers on the year. When the entire team slash a combined batting average / on-base percentage / slugging percentage of 0.319/0.401/0.410, then it is easy to see why the Bears have scored 6.64 runs per games (not adjusted for the shortened mercy rule wins). The scrappy Bears keep on getting on base, one base at a time.

Lindsay Rood is hitting a video-game-like 0.462 with an OBP of 0.553!!! Vanessa Alvarez and Kolbie Pettis are both getting on base at the rates of 0.462 and 0.481, respectively. 6 Bears are batting 0.325 or much much better. Who needs extra-base hits when you are hitting so well as a team. Bears also steal 24 bases in 28 attempts.

Conversely, the Bears only strike out 63 in 91 innings. Bears do depend a great deal on their defense (and athleticism) to post a team ERA of 2.62 while suppressing their opponents to hit only 0.241. Redshirt sophomore ace Zoe Conley is responsible for 58 innings with 48 K’s and an ERA of 1.69.

Later today, Cal Softball will know how they stack up against one of the best in the country - No.3/1 Florida Gators.

Bears are in down in Fullerton in the Judi Garman Classic (games are streamed for a fee on FloSoftball). Bears will actually take on Northwestern (3-10) of B1G first at noon today before the big showdown with SEC’s Florida at 2:30 PM PT. Bears will also play two more B1G teams in Iowa (2-8) and Indiana (6-8) this weekend.


Cal Women’s Tennis defeats LA schools in non-conference meets

Before the Pac-12 conference play will begin in a few weeks, Cal Bears play their usual extra meets (at the opposite location as the Pac-12 meets) against the LA rivals of UCLA and USC. Cal Women’s Tennis welcomed UCLA and USC to Bear Territory and then promptly dismissed the visitors.

No.7/18 Bears rested their usual No.1 player in senior Maegan Manasse, who according to the Pac-12 Network coverage of the UCLA meet has some minor wrist problem but should be good for Pac-12 play to start on March 10th. Junior Karla Popovic had no issue filling in as the (temporary?) No.1 while with ease taking down the UCLA singles player ranked No.2 in the country this year.

Popovic and the Bears clinched the UCLA win 4-0 before they played the other matches to completion for a 6-1 win (lone loss by freshman Maria Smith playing at No.5 for the first time this year). No. 9/14 UCLA dropped to 6-2 on the season.

Likewise on Saturday, the Bears had little problem with USC (3-3). Bears clinched the dual meet 4-0 before everything played to its conclusion for another 6-1 victory (lone loss by Olivia Hauger in court No.3). Stephanie Lin who stepped in to play at court No.6 won both her matches on the weekend.

Bears (6-2) will now rest for the week before heading down to USC and UCLA next Friday and Saturday, respectively to begin official Pac-12 play. A sweep there would go a long way toward the Bears possibly winning the Pac-12 crown. In the past couple of years, a lone loss to USC or Stanford prevented the Bears from the conference team title.

Cal Men’s Tennis 4-0 on a busy week, including epic comeback win over Michigan

I am not sure why, but Cal Men’s Tennis opt to play 4 dual meets in 5 days, including a doubleheader on Sunday against UC Davis and then UC Santa Barbara. Golden Bears managed a perfect 4-0 record on the week, but required a Herculean effort to overcome Michigan.

Resting Filip Bergevi, the Bears were able to beat UC Davis 4-1 despite losing the doubles point. The Bears then had to go down to the wire to beat UC Santa Barbara 4-3 in the 2nd match of the doubleheader. Cal took the doubles point, but could only win in the top 3 courts from Florian Lakat, Andre Goransson, and Billy Griffith.

On Tuesday, the Bears had to fight hard to come from behind against Michigan. Bears against took the doubles point, but trails 1-3 after losses in courts 3, 4, 5 (needless to say, the bottom half of the Bears lineup without Bergevi is a bit thin). Lakat, Goransson, and Griffith all went to 3rd sets in their matches. Griffith, Lakat, and Goransson won in that order to complete the epic comeback.

Bears have a much easier time beating San Diego on the road on Thursday by a 6-1 score. Bears will stay in San Diego this weekend for the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championships before the rescheduled “Big Slam” (non-conference version) at Stanford on Tuesday. Bears then welcome TCU and Texas to Berkeley next weekend after beating both of them on the road last year.

Cal Beach Volleyball season starts this weekend at Stanford

2016 Season: 17-11, ranked No.16 in the country; Bears did not make the NCAA tournament in the first year of that competition (USC won that first title)

Coming soon to a home match near you - the 2017 team poster!

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14th ranked Cal Beach Volleyball (I think the sports have officially rebranded themselves from “Sand Volleyball” to appeal to the flyover states without “beaches” to “Beach Volleyball” officially) will start their 2017 season at the Stanford Invitational.

The Bears, in the 4th year of program’s existence, will field a lineup without any seniors (last year’s senior Kory Lamet was a former Cal Women’s Soccer star). Bears will only have one familiar face from the Indoor team in USF transfer (and defensive specialist for Cal Volleyball) Jessica Gaffney.

With the results being determined like tennis by the top 5 pairs, a successful program requires depth in the program. Bears return Mia Merino who played in the top pair with Lamet last year and the successful duo of Grace Campbell and Olivia Rodberg (19-9 last year) to go along with half of last year’s No.2 in Bryce Bark. With a line up increasingly more specialized Beach players in every year of the program, Bears are expecting plenty out of their big freshman group. There are no doubt that the expectation is increasingly higher for this young program.

Bears will open the year at Stanford but plays everyone other than the Cardinal. Bears will face Pacific, St. Mary’s, Cal Poly, and Santa Clara.

On the season, only the USC match and Stanford (April 11th) match, both on the road, are scheduled for Pac-12 Networks coverage.

Cal Women’s Water Polo finished 4th at Barbara Kalbus Invitational

First a clarification, should the NCAA field be the same as last year - Cal Golden Bears can make the NCAA tournament at the 4th best team in the country because there will be 3 at-large bids in addition to the one automatic MPSF bid. Nevertheless, the Bears sorely want to get in to the top 3 in the country - they came awfully close to do that last weekend.

After convincing wins over San Jose State 13-6 and then over No.5 Arizona State 10-4, the Bears fell just short against rival Stanford again 9-12.

No. 1 Stanford 12, No. 4 Cal 9

Cal 1 3 4 1 – 9

Stan 3 3 4 2 - 12

Cal Goals: Dora Antal 3, Kindred Paul 3, Emily Loughlin 2, Kacey Avalos

Stanford Goals: Makenzie Fischer 5, Maggie Steffens 4, Dani Jackovich 2, Jamie Neushel.

Cal Saves: Madeline Trabucco 3.

Stanford Saves: Gabby Stone 7.

Bears then played an extremely close 3rd place game to only get edged by 3rd ranked UCLA a penalty called with 17 seconds left in regulation. Bears clearly showed that they can play at the level of UCLA and will get opportunities in the regular season and probably MPSF and NCAA tournaments to prove it.

No. 3 UCLA 12, No. 4 Cal 11

Cal 3 3 3 2 – 11

UCLA 2 3 5 2 – 12

Cal Goals: Dora Antal 3, Kindred Paul 2, Genevieve Weed 2, Anna Illes, Emma Wright, Kacey Avalos, Grace Morgan.

UCLA Goals: Rachel Fattal 3, Alys Williams 2, Alexa Tielmann 2, Maddie Musselman, Bronte Halligan, Kodi Hill, Kelsey O'Brien, Mackenzie Barr.

Cal Saves: Madeline Trabucco 5.

UCLA Saves: Carlee Kapana 6.

Golden Bears (12-3) have this weekend off before welcoming Harvard to Berkeley next Saturday. MPSF conference matches start the following week.

Cal Lacrosse wins first game of the season

Cal Lacrosse (1-3) earned their first win of the season on the road at Butler last Friday before ending the trip with a loss at Ohio State.

Bears defeated Butler by a very convincing 19-7 score. Senior Jena Fritts scored a career high 6 goals and the Bears had a huge 15-3 at the half.

Against Ohio State, who the Bears pushed to OT in Berkeley last year, the Bears suffered a 14-8 loss. Hat tricks by Fritts and Mattimore were not enough for the Golden Bears in hostile territory. Ohio State jumped to a 5-0 lead and never looked back.

Bears host visiting Michigan today at 5 PM PT and St. Joseph on Sunday at noon PT. All the home matches are streamed for free online at THIS LINK.

Cal Rugby in away leg of UBC World Cup match on Sunday

A strong second half at home saw the Bears close the deficit in their loss to UBC by making the final 28-17 Thunderbirds. The younger Cal Bears squad now have a more realistic chance to not only win the match this Sunday but to outscore UBC by 11+ points to win the World Cup, which is based on the aggregate score.

The non-televised match will take place Sunday, March 5th at 1 PM PT from Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

By the way, some interesting quotes from coach Jack Clark about the UBC match and how the Bears are playing players with much more rugby and worldly experiences on UBC. Coach Clark welcomes the challenge for his young squad this year, even if the matchup may look somewhat unfair on paper.

In its 28-17 victory on February 18, UBC fielded several players who are significantly older that university age, players in their late 20s. You said in a preview that their age wasn't a factor. Do you still feel that way?

"Yes. Listen, they don't play in a collegiate competition and they aren't subject to U.S. collegiate eligibility rules. So in saying their age was a non-factor, I am explaining they aren't breaking any rules, because they don't have any. I think it's an important distinction. UBC isn't held to U.S. collegiate eligibility rules. They aren't pretending to be a collegiate team in the context of a U.S. college sport."

But is the use of players who are that far beyond U.S. collegiate eligibility changing the importance of the "World Cup"?

"Yes and no. The match was highly valuable to the development of our team. I thought our team was fantastic in the challenge. We hung with them as well as those good senior club teams. A match like that will help our team and development of our players down the line, so it's still important. But your point is acknowledged, it is apples and oranges from an eligibility perspective and this does result in the series being of less importance to both teams, I suspect. Cal will need to play well to make the series valuable to UBC."