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Golden Medals: Impressive but winless Pac-12 starts for Cal Volleyball, W. Soccer

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Conference play has not started well for the Golden Bears

Cal Volleyball Twitter

Apologies for missing my weekly post last Friday - I had overestimated the ability to work on an Amtrak train and was also in the middle of a move from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (which is akin to moving from SoCal to NorCal but just East-West across the state of Pennsylvania). This week’s post will quickly recap the performances of Cal Fall Olympic Sports in conference play (all except for Men’s Water Polo)...which sadly have not been going that great, record-wise.


Cal Volleyball (8-7, 0-4 in Pac-12) have 2 5-set losses in Pac-12 play

Yes, the Cal Volleyball team is still young. Nope, they are not competing for the Pac-12 title in 2018. Still, the Golden Bears is a dangerous squad for any Pac-12 opponents to play. Bears have played about as well as possible for a team that is opening conference play with 4 losses.

Cal 2, Arizona State 3 (20-25, 27-25, 22-25, 25-21, 16-18)

After losing in straight sets to No.2 Stanford in the Pac-12 opening Big Spike, Bears went the distance against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Yes, the Sun Devils went 0-20 in Pac-12 play last year, but they are a legit team in 2018 with a current 3-1 record, including a 3 set sweep of a ranked Oregon Ducks squad.

It was obviously a back-and-forth match between the Bears and the Sun Devils. Even the 5th set went into extra points. For whatever reason, Cal head coach Jennifer Dorr went with senior Mackenzie Albrecht as the 2nd setter over freshman Jade Blevins in the deciding 5th set. Cal regularly uses two setters, AKA the QB for Volleyball on the floor. Just like Cal Football uses Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain, Cal Volleyball has been going with Isabel Potter and Jade Blevins. Albrecht was a starter for parts of last year before losing the setter job to Potter. Cal’s strategy in this deciding 5th set is akin to Ross Bowers being called upon for the final drive of an one score Cal Football game in the 4th quarter.

Albrecht, who is doing well academically at the Haas School of Business, is certainly not the reason why the Bears lost. Her bump set is perhaps not as accurate as the standard two handed sets of the other setters, but the Bears lost some key points at the end due to nerve

Preslie Anderson led the way with 12 kills while Mima Mirkovic provided a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs.

As a squad ASU has 62 kills to Cal’s 52 kills, although they also have 38 hitting errors to Cal’s 24.

Cal 2, No.18 UCLA 3 (25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 21-25, 13-15)

Against the perennial volleyball powerhouse UCLA, Cal Bears played very well to take the first two sets. They also had their chances in both sets 3 and 5 but just could not close this one out.

Potter and Blevins ran the Cal offense had finished with 29 and 28 assists, respectively. 4 Bears had double digit in kills, led by Mirkovic’s 18. Anderson had 13 kills on another impressive 0.458 hitting match.

After not finishing the match in the 3rd set, UCLA Bruins did pick up their game. Still, the young Golden Bears just need to figure out this killer instinct thing.

Cal 1, No. 13 USC 3 (25-23, 22-25, 21-25, 26-28)

Golden Bears again struck first at home by taking the first set. Unfortunately, the Trojans responded by winning the next 3 sets, although the Bears had a clear chance to push things to a decisive 5th set, including a 24-23 lead in the 4th set.

Bears spread their 61 kills across 5 players with 9 or more kills - Mirkovic, Anderson, Annevelink, Huizenga, and Forte. Potter and Blevins had 28 and 21 assists, respectively.

USC relied heavily on Khalia Laniar (26 kills on match high 60 attacks) and Brooke Botkins (20 kills on 47 attacks). The two combined for 4 of the 5 points to close out the match for the Trojans.

Cal sophomore Preslie Anderson has been one of the most efficient middle blocker and “killer” in the country. She has a Pac-12 leading 0.417 hitting average on the year, which is good for 8th best in the country.

In short, Cal Bears have been quite competitive at home in the early Pac-12 play despite having nothing to show for that work. The Bears will visit the mountain schools this weekend to take on Colorado (Friday at 7pm PT) and Utah (Sunday at 1pm PT). The Pac-12 matches are mostly available on the Pac-12 Networks. You figure the Bears will pick up their first Pac-12 win of the season soon; hopefully it’s this weekend on the road rather than next weekend back in Berkeley against the Washington schools.


Cal Women’s Soccer (4-7-1, 0-4-0) pushed No.2 USC to OT

Golden Bears are in danger of snapping their impressive streak of making the NCAA postseason with their losing record. The difference between the Bears and their opponents have often been by the slimmest margin, however. 3 of the 4 Pac-12 losses have been just one goal.

After opening the year with Olivia Sekany in goal, Bears have switched to another freshman in Amanda Zodikoff between the pipes, since the previous weekend’s Oklahoma trip.

Cal 1, Arizona State 2

Bears had the early advantage, Emma Westin with her 3rd goal of the year, in this one but the Sun Devils were more aggressive in the last quarter of the match where they were able to score both the equalizer (70th minute) and the go-ahead goal (82nd minute).

Cal 0, No.2 USC 1 (OT)

Zodikoff had an impressive first half in making some great saves, but the Trojan broke through with the Golden Goal in OT for this tough loss on the Bears.

Cal 0, No.16 UCLA 4

Bruins were in control of this one the entire way, outshooting the Bears 21 to 4 (12 to 3 on shots on goal).

Cal 1, Oregon State 2

On Thursday, Bears again come out on the wrong side of a close match. Luca Deza put the Bears ahead early but OSU equalizes on a penalty few minutes later. They got the game winner in the 69th minute.

Bears outshot the Beavers 24 to 12, making this road loss that much harder to stomach.

Bears will finish the weekend’s Oregon trip with a match at Oregon on Sunday afternoon at 1pm PT.


Cal Men’s Soccer (5-3-2, 1-1-0 in Pac-12) is the lone team with a conference win...over San Diego State

Making a strong push as the Cal Male Player of the Fall is senior Shinya Kadono who has now 10 goals on the year.

Cal 1, UCLA 2

UCLA struck first but Kadono had the equalizer in the 63rd minute. UCLA went ahead for good 4 minutes later though.

Cal 1, San Diego State 0

Kadono scores for the 5th straight match. Drake Callendar didn’t need to make a save for this clean sheet. Bears outshot the Aztecs 10 to 5.

Coming up on Sunday is the home leg of the annual Bay Area Derby between the Golden Bears and Stanford. We will have a dedicated post for that match on Sunday.


Cal Field Hockey (3-6, 0-1 in American East) lost to ranked teams and inexplicably Pacific

Cal Field Hockey has played one of the toughest schedule in the country. They earned a 25th overall ranking few weeks ago for playing ranked teams tough. With all that preparation, you would think that the Golden Bears will have little trouble against the weaker west coast teams...that was unfortunately not the case.

Cal 1, Pacific 2

Megan Rodgers scored her 7th goal on the year, but the Bears can’t muster more offense against the Tigers. Pacific scored their 2 goals first, but the Bears can only get one back.

Bears will make their last scheduled regular season East Coast trip this weekend when they take on No.8 Boston College and No.13 Syracuse from Syracuse. Outside of the loss to Pacific, every other team to beat the Bears this year have been ranked (including top 5 teams in North Carolina and Maryland). Then, it’s more west coast Field Hockey against UC Davis twice, Pacific again, and rival Stanford twice.


Cal Men’s Water Polo (12-1) - Johnny Hooper is back

With USA National Team member Johnny Hooper back with the squad, the Cal offense has gone to another gear.

No.3 Cal 22, San Jose State 1

The 2nd home match of the season was dominated by the Golden Bears. Hooper scored 6 goals in his 2nd match of the season with the team. He passed head coach Kirk Everist on the all-time Cal goal list with his 206th career goal in this one, for 6th place.

No.3 Cal 15, No.13 UC Irvine 9

4 goals for Hooper to lead the way. Spencer Farrar added 3 goals. Bears took charge with a 6 goals 3rd quarter to take control.

No.3 Cal 13, No.11 Pepperdine 11

4 more goals for Johnny Hooper. Pepperdine had a good 4th quarter to make the final margin a bit closer.

No surprise on who earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor last week.

After a bye week, Bears are back in action at Stanford in MPSF Invitational next weekend. This is the first chance for the Bears to play the like of Stanford, UCLA, and USC this season. That will be the first real measuring stick of the season.

GO BEARS!