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Golden Medals: Cal Volleyball beat another ranked team, but all fall sports may miss postseason

Across all sports, Bears need to turn things around in the 2nd half of conference play.

Cal Volleyball needs to split their remaining 12 Pac-12 matches for a chance at the postseason.
Cal Volleyball Twitter

Maybe I am preparing myself mentally for recapping the Cal Football vs. Oregon State game tomorrow, but this is perhaps one of the most pessimistic “Golden Medal” post that I have written. Sadly, there is a non-zero chance that all of the Cal Fall Olympic sports (but really, we can lump football with them) will miss the postseason for the first time in a long time.

While the more individualistic Cal Women’s Cross Country should make the postseason as a squad (although there are too little races during the season to really say) from preseason expectation, I am not sure if I should be concerned that neither Bethan Knights and Brie Oakley (Cal’s clear top two runners) have represented the Cal Bears in any meet this fall yet.

Fortunately, there are still enough time for all of the Cal teams to rally. There are still enough of the season left for the Golden Bears to salvage their seasons. Because “THE BEARS WILL NOT QUIT!”.

The Thursday soccer doubleheader was a double dose of disappointment, but there are plenty more Cal Athletics action on campus this weekend.

Cal Volleyball (10-9, 2-6 in Pac-12) beats No.21 Washington State, need to split remaining Pac-12 matches

Cal 3, No.21 Washington State 1

Bears showed a lot of resolve in winning the first set 32-30 to set the tone for the rest of this match. After the Cougars tied the matchup, Bears had a very efficient 0.310 hitting 3rd set to go ahead for good.

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Forte had a standout match with not just 10 kills but also 11 blocks. Bailee Huizinga (hitting a fantastic 0.400 in this match), Mima Mirkovic, and Maddie Haynes all had double digit kills for the Bears. Preslie Anderson had another efficient outing with 8 kills on 0.412 hitting percentage.

Cal 0, No.18 Washington 3

Golden Bears nearly got a break when a video review gave them a point after the Huskies thought that they had the first set won. However, the Bears can’t quite catch the Huskies off-guard and lost a close first set. Huskies played better in the next two sets to hand the Bears only their 2nd straight set loss of the year (the other one came in the first Big Spike).

Bears will play on the road at the Oregon schools this weekend. No.16 Ducks will be yet another ranked Pac-12 foes, while the Oregon State Beavers are still quite dangerous despite their current 8 match losing streak (should be 9 when they face the Bears since they are not going to beat Stanford).

For the Bears to be postseason eligible, they need to have a winning record - which means that the Bears need to split their remaining 12 matches. That will not be an easy task in the always loaded Pac-12 conference, but it is certainly still plausible, if the Bears can maintain a high level of play and take out a few ranked opponents.

Cal Men’s Water Polo (14-3) finishes 4th at MPSF Invitational

Cal Men’s Water Polo had their first real test of the season last weekend at Stanford in the stacked MPSF Invitational tournament. Unfortunately, the Bears came out with more questions than assurance.

In NCAA Men’s Water Polo postseason, there are only two at-large bids...meaning that someone is staying home in December out of the 4 top programs in the country between Cal, Stanford, USC, and UCLA; the postseason only has room for at most 3 MPSF teams. If the season ends today, the squad that will be left out would be the Golden Bears.

Bears ran through the teams that they were supposed to beat early in the tournament winning 17-7 over Loyola Marymount and 19-8 over UC Santa Barbara. Then, the Bears go dominated by USC in a 6-13 loss before being edged by UCLA 11-12.

Of course, the regular season matches against UCLA, USC, and Stanford in the coming month will be weighed more than this past weekend. The MPSF tournament is also often the decider, but this is not the start that Kirk Everist’s men wanted, particularly with questions about how the team will fare in 2018 after the graduation of Calympian Luca Cupido.

Bears will have a home match on Sunday against UC Santa Barbara at noon. That should serve as another tune up before UCLA visits Berkeley the following Saturday.

Cal Women’s Soccer (5-8-2, 1-5-1) needs to sweep remaining 4 matches

Bears’ Sunday match vs. Utah is a must-win as the Golden Bears need to sweep the remaining 4 matches (including No.22 Washington State and No.1 Stanford) to finish the year with a winning record.

Cal 0, No.15 Colorado 3

Buffs were just too much for the Bears. Colorado outshot the Bears 15-9 and set a school record in goals with 4 more regular season matches to go.

Cal 3, Arizona 3 (2OT)

It was a wild shootout from Tucson between Cal and Arizona last Saturday. Despite the Wildcats being the favorite, Bears fought hard to earn a draw. Bears actually had a 3-1 lead early in the 2nd half before Arizona eventually tie things up in the 76th minute.

Abi Kim, Anja Koehler (hero in Cal’s previous match over Oregon), Thai national team member Miranda Nild scored for the Bears.

Golden Bears are better than their losing record would indicate, but there have been just too many matches that ended with the Bears on the wrong side of a close battle in 2018.

Cal Men’s Soccer (5-7-2, 1-5-0) opens 2nd half of conference play with a loss on Thursday

With just 32 team field, a winning record is often not enough for Cal Men’s Soccer to make the postseason. The young Golden Bears need to win 3 of the last 4 to have a 0.500 record, but may need to win all 4 to return to the postseason for the 2nd consecutive year.

Cal 1, Washington 2

Huskies finished off their season sweep of the Golden Bears. Despite another goal by Cal senior Shinya Kadono (12 on the year), Bears can’t get the equalizer to drop yet another one goal loss in conference play.

Cal 1, Oregon State 2

Kadono was also the lone goal scorer for the Bears on the road a week earlier. His 11th goal gave the Bears an early lead but the Beavers got two goals in the last 15 minutes to take the win.

In both matches, Noah Texter is still starting at goal for the injured Drake Callender. Texter has been solid as head coach Kevin Grimes continues his amazing streak of developing great keepers at Cal.

The home leg of the home-and-home against Oregon State is this Sunday for the Bears. The Beavers are coming off a draw against Stanford.

Cal Field Hockey (4-9, 1-2 in American East) seeks some momentum ahead of America East tournament

For Field Hockey, the only path to the postseason is by winning the conference tournament for the automatic bid. In what may be the last year that the 4 California schools (Cal, Stanford, UC Davis, and Pacific) are playing in the America East, Golden Bears will seek their first AE title.

Before we get to that, Bears will first look to put together a winning streak.

Cal 3, UC Davis 0

Bears snapped a 6 match losing streak by finally playing a non-ranked opponent (5 of the 6 losses came against ranked teams during that losing streak). The win at UC Davis marks the 400th win in program history.

Megan Rodgers scored her 13th goal of the year as the Bears dominated the Aggies by outshooting them 25-5. Maddie Cleat and Katrina Carter also tallied goals for the Bears.

Later today at 6pm PT, Bears will host UC Davis in the home match of the annual conference home-and-home.

Bears will then travel to Stanford on Sunday for the away leg of that annual series. Stanford edged the Bears 3-2 in Berkeley last Friday. The regular season wraps next Sunday when the Bears host Pacific. The America East tournament will be hosted by Stanford on November 1st-4th.

Cal Cross Country competed in both Wisconsin and Santa Clara last weekend

I do not really understand the Cross Country schedule.

Bears had a split squad at both the Wisconsin Pre-National and the Santa Clara Invitational last weekend. The Wisconsin course is the same one that will host the NCAA championship next month. The next meet will be the Pac-12 Championship next Friday from Stanford.

For the men, graduate student Garret Corcoran was the top finisher for the Bears; he placed 59th in Wisconsin. Corcoran was one of two Bears to qualify for the NCAA championship last year.

For the women, no Bethan Knights nor Brie Oakley for the Bears in either meets. This is either strategic with both being saved for later in the season or due to a not widely publicized injuries. Hopefully, it is the former.

Freshman Marea Zlatunich was the top Cal finisher at 57th for the women in Wisconsin.

Time is running out for the Bears to get hot to make a late postseason push in most sports. I am still confident in Cal Men’s Water Polo despite the setback last weekend. Cal Volleyball may surprise everyone. Cal Field Hockey can use a big morale boost on Sunday against Stanford. Soccer may have too slim of a margin for error now, but I am sure that they will battle until the final whistle.

Let’s finish the seasons strong!