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Cal Volleyball & W. Soccer earn 1st Pac-12 win; M. Water Polo to be tested at MPSF Invite.

Swimming, men’s golf, and rugby 7s also start fall season in great form.

Johnny Hooper and No.4 Cal Men’s Water Polo will finally face off against 2 of UCLA, USC, and/or Stanford this weekend at the MPSF Invitational.
Cal Men’s Water Polo Twitter

Hopefully, by the end of the season, we will look back on last Sunday as the turning point of the season for both Cal Volleyball and Women’s Soccer as they both broke through on that day to earn their first Pac-12 victory of the year, after several really close tries. Both squads are capable of streaming together several wins in conference play and make a run at qualifying for their respective NCAA postseasons.

Since Cal Field Hockey is hosting Stanford this afternoon, you can read more about that battle tested bunch, lead by super sophomore Megan Rodgers (pictured above in the embedded tweet), in its own post.

Cal Volleyball (9-8, 1-5 in Pac-12) wins 5-set thriller over No.24 Utah

Against the tough competitions in the Pac-12, Cal Volleyball has competed hard only to fall just short. Outside of the straight set loss to No.2 Stanford, Bears have pushed other ranked opponents to the brink. In 4 of their first 6 Pac-12 matches, it had come down to the final, abbreviated 5th set, where a team just needs to be the first to 15 rather than the usual 25. After dropping that decisive 5th set to Arizona State, No.18 UCLA, and Colorado, Golden Bears were finally triumphant against No.24 Utah Utes.

Cal 3, Utah 2 (25-23, 23-25, 9-25, 25-23, 15-10)

Bears bounced back from a really poor 3rd set where they only scored 9 points to win the 4th and 5th set. Sophomore outside hitter Mima Mirkovic led the way with 16 kills and 13 digs. Fellow sophomore middle blocker Preslie Anderson may have dropped her efficiency from hitting in the 0.400 to just 0.103 for her 9 kills, but she also contributed 6 big blocks. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Blocker was the most efficient Bears with her 8 kills in 10 attempts as opposite Bailee Huizinga (7 kills but also 7 attacking errors) and outside hitter Maddie Haynes (9 kills but 7 attacking errors) were more or less neutralized.

Sophomore setter Isabel Potter led the offense with 38 assists. Freshman Jade Blevins contributed 11 assists, but did not play in the decisive 5th set; this was an interesting change of strategy by the Bears to allow one setter to play all the rotation in the 5th. The other setter on the roster, Mackenzie Albrecht was used more as a defensive specialist in this match, but did play in that deciding set.

Head coach Jennifer Dorr credited the entire squad for this win. After that 9 point 3rd set and in a tough road environment, the Bears did not quit. This is the first Pac-12 win for Dorr as the head coach. With the program in rebuilding mode for several year, this win also has the distinction of being Cal Volleyball’s first one over a ranked opponent since 2016.

Since it is the Pac-12, the schedule does not get easier this weekend with No. 18, 12-4 Washington (Friday night at 7pm PT) and No.21, 13-3 Washington State (Sunday afternoon at 1 pm PT) visiting Haas Pavilion. Then again, given how the Bears have played at times, it would not shock anyone if the Bears can win not one but both matches. Winning these matches at home is certainly the formula for the program that’s seeking their first return trip back to the NCAA tournament since 2013.

Cal Women’s Soccer (5-7-1, 1-4-0 in Pac-12) beats Oregon 2-1

Also recording their first “W” in conference play last Sunday was Cal Women’s Soccer. Golden Bears has lost by one goal in 3 of their first 4 matches, including an OT 1-0 loss to then No.2 USC. On Sunday, Bears are the one who scored the late decider.

Redshirt junior Anja Koehler scored on a header with an assist from Swedish sophomore Emma Westin, who scored the equalizer earlier, who set the goal up with the corner kick in the 79th minute to give the Bears the win over the Oregon Ducks.

For her goal and an assist, Westin is the Cal Athletics student-athlete of the week.

Inside the cage, redshirt freshman Olivia Sekany is back as the keeper. Sekany, who started as the keeper for the Bears in the non-conference season, was replaced by freshman Amanda Zodikoff for the bulk of conference play so far. Liv made 4 saves to earn this win.

Bears have only one match this weekend, but it’s again on the road. Cal will play Arizona (8-4-1, 1-3-1 in Pac-12) on Saturday at 5:30 pm PT. For the Golden Bears to continue their long streak of NCAA tournament appearances, they would need to have a winning record by the end of the regular season. Another big road win will certainly help toward that goal.

No.4 Cal Men’s Water Polo in MPSF Invitational this weekend - now the real season starts

Now that it’s October, California Golden Bears (12-1) will finally get to the tough part of the schedule. Starting with the MPSF Invitational this weekend from Stanford, Golden Bears will finally test themselves against in-state rivals of Stanford, USC, and UCLA.

Even with the expanded postseason in recent years, only 3 MPSF teams can make the postseason with there being only 2 at-large bids. For the past few years, Stanford has been the one on the outside. Earlier this week, Stanford defeated USC to claim the No.1 ranking. Cal is currently ranked No.4, partially due to their shocking OT loss to Harvard on the heel of their 3rd match in a 36 hours stretch. Since then and with the return of senior Johnny Hooper (who has 20 goals in just 4 matches) from US National Team duty, Golden Bears have looked like another national championship contending squad. Barring a major surprise on Friday and Saturday, Cal should finally play 2 of UCLA (defending champs), USC, and Stanford on Sunday in the semifinal and either final or 3rd place match. While the early November MPSF regular season match and the mid-November MPSF tournament results will weigh a lot more than this weekend, it is nonetheless a very good litmus test of whether the currently 4th ranked Golden Bears deserve a better ranking.

The Sunday action will be livestreamed by Stanford.

With the graduation of Pete Cutino award winner Luca Cupido, the Bears are missing a big piece of that 2016 national championship. Still, there are enough talent in Berkeley to compensate for Cupido. Bears are also breaking in a new goalkeeper for the 3rd straight year - Brazilian junior Bernardo Carelli is now the starter.

Bears will open play against No.13 Loyola Marymount on Friday. They are on the same half of the bracket as No.1 USC (seeding were done before USC’s loss to Stanford). Other teams in this half includes No.5 UC Santa Barbara, No.12 Pomona, No.8 Long Beach State, No.9 UC Davis, and No.16 Air Force.

The full MPSF Invitational information can be found here.

Cal Men’s Soccer (5-5-2) drops to 1-3 in Pac-12 player after OT loss at Washington

Cal 0, Washington 1 (OT)

With preseason Hermann Trophy (soccer’s Heisman) watchlist keeper Drake Callender injured, junior Noah Texter stepped up and played admirably for 105 minutes and made a career best 10 saves. Unfortunately, he was unable to stop a penalty kick by Scott Menzies in OT that gave the Washington Huskies this win on Thursday night. Bears only managed 4 shots against the Huskies, with the best chance by leading scorer Shinya Kadono (team high 2 shots) in the 31st minute (see highlight below). The call on Cal senior defender Sam Junqua that rewarded the penalty was rather questionable (also in the video below).

Golden Bears are one match (at Oregon State on Sunday) away from the midpoint of Pac-12 play. With the men’s soccer postseason field being just 32 teams deep (as oppose to the 64 team field for women’s soccer), Bears need to get some wins to make a return trip to the postseason.

Both Cal Men’s and Women’s Swimming dominant against Utah

Finishing as the NCAA runner-ups to Texas men and Stanford women, Cal swimming opens the 2018-19 season again as the top contender to win the NCAA team championships from those two schools. They combined forces on Wednesday to host a dual sex, dual meet against Utah. To the surprise of no one, it was a pair of easy Cal victories.

Cal men finished 191-100 to improve to 2-0 on the year in dual meets; Bears won the season opener over Pacific. It was near total domination as the Bears won 13 of 14 events, including both diving events. Junior Connor Callahan won both 1-meter and 3-meter diving. Nick Norman took 1000y Free. Zheng Quah won 200y Free and 200y Back. Daniel Carr won 100y Back. Freshman sensation Reece Whitley won 100y Breast. Andrew Seliskar won 200y Fly and 200y Breast. Michael Jensen won 50y and 100y Free. Trenton Julian won 100y Fly. Sean Greishop won 400y IM. Bears also won both the 200y medley and 400y free relays. Utah’s lone win came from 500y Free. Looking at the final results, I think the Bears concede some points to the Utes by not counting a few of these winning swims.

Cal women also won by an impressive 184.5 to 111.5 margin and won 14 of 16 events. Calympian Abbey Weitzeil won 3 individual events (100y Breast, 50y Free, and 500y Free) to lead the way. Robin Neumann won 1000y Free and 200y Free. Amy Bilquist won 100y Back. Freshman Cassidy Bayer won 200y Fly. Katie McLaughlin won 100y Free. Freshman Alicia Wilson won 200y Back (picking up the slack of Calympian Kathleen Baker who had turned pro). Freshman Elise Garcia won 100y Fly. Briana Thai won the two diving events. Utah won 200y Breast and 400y IM.

This was the dual meet season opener for the Bears. It was great to see that several freshman picked up victories, although head coach Teri McKeever often stacked the lineup that way to reward the newbies.

Cal Men’s Golf and Collin Morikawa finished 2nd at the Mackenzie

As expected, Cal Men’s Golf dominated in their home tournament. With enough great players to make another legit run at a 2nd NCAA team national championship in program history, Golden Bears had a great three rounds only to fall just short to a Pepperdine team.

Pepperdine finished at -52 ahead of the Golden Bears at -41. San Jose State was 3rd at -26. Pepperdine had a much better 3rd round to turn 6 shot deficit to Cal into a 11 shot win.

Individually, Cal senior Collin Morikawa finished 2nd at -17. Fellow Bear Sebastian Crampton finished 3rd with -14. Kaiwn Liu was tied for 5th at -9. Pepperdine’s RJ Manke won with a -21, shooting a -10 in the final round to Morikawa’s -4.

KK Limbhasut and Jamie Cheatham did not play for the Bears.

Bears have now played in 3 tournaments this season - they finished 11th in Carpet Capital Collegiate without Morikawa. They also took 3rd place at Fightin’ Illini Invitational where Morikawa also finished 2nd individually. Of course, Bears also teamed up with the Women’s Team to win the inaugural Big Match over Stanford.

Bears will next play in the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in Florida in two weeks.

Cal Rugby 7’s open Fall season 6-0

The Fall Rugby 7s season also started last weekend. Bears had two separate squads at the Cal Poly hosted event. Both the upperclassman squad and the underclassman squad defeated everyone else to meet in the final; just like in the final scene of Rocky III, we don’t know who won that final match from reading the official Cal recap (I’m sure that some of our readers know what happened in this match that will NOT be a part of the official Cal result this season).

Older Bears won 50-5 over UC Santa Cruz, won 24-12 over Cal Poly, and won 29-0 over Arizona.

Younger Bears won 59-0 over Fresno State, won 31-5 over UC Davis, and won 14-5 over UCLA.

Bears will next play at the West Coast Collegiate 7s on October 21-22 from Treasure Island. I believe that our Rick Chen will be there to provide CGB coverage.