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Golden Medals: Surging Cal Volleyball continues late push for postseason

Cal Cross Country will be racing for a spot in the NCAA Championships on Saturday

ICYMI, Cal Men’s Soccer beat 3x defending NCAA champs and rival Stanford last night by an 1-0 result. Stanford is only ranked 6th in the country and probably not going to win their 4th consecutive College Cup. Still, it is a huge win to close the season for the young Cal team that has underachieved result-wise this year. Despite the loss, Stanford still managed to win a share of the Pac-12 title, although Oregon State can also clinch a share of the title if they can beat UW later tonight.

Also, the Big Splash is tomorrow at noon PT from Spieker in Berkeley. Be on the lookout for my preview which will be up on Saturday morning. In conference play this year, Golden Bears defeated UCLA at home but lost to USC down in LA last weekend. Only 3 of the 4 California men’s water polo powerhouses can make the postseason.

Cal Volleyball (14-12, 6-9 in Pac-12) making a late push for a return to postseason

Head coach Jennifer Dorr just might be able to turn the trajectory of the once great Cal Volleyball program around in her first official year in charge. The Golden Bears’ RPI is still too high (in the 90’s before the win against Oregon State), but they will need to win at least 2 of their final 5 matches against RPI No.1 Stanford, No. 10 Washington State, No. 20 Oregon, No.25 Washington, and/or No.39 Arizona to have a winning record and even be considered. Ever since starting the Pac-12 play with an 0-5 record, the Bears have been able to pick up at least a win each week since. Given the strength of the Pac, I do think the Golden Bears have a legit shot at being picked for the postseason if they can finish with an above 0.500 record.

Here is a quick recap with what happened with Cal Volleyball in the last 2+ weeks.

Cal 3, UCLA 0

UCLA was one of those win that got away early in Pac-12 play for the Bears. Golden Bears suffered a 5 set heartbreak in Berkeley but managed to avenge that loss with a straight set win in Westwood.

Cal sophomore Mima Mirkovic led all players with 17 kills. Isabel Potter was the sole setter for the Bears and got 32 assists.

Cal 1, USC 3

Things might have gone differently had Cal Volleyball won that tight first set. Instead, the Trojans took the 35-33 point set en route to a 4 set win.

Potter had 47 assists in this one while freshman Jade Blevins only appeared in one set. Mirkovic was neutralized by the Trojans to hit only 0.000 with 9 kills and 9 hitting errors. Middle blocker Preslie Anderson led the Bears with 13 kills.

Cal 0, Colorado 3

Colorado Buffs are only ranked 50th on the RPI, but elevation was in their favor as they swept the Golden Bears in straight set.

Mirkovic has 10 kills to lead the Bears with Isabel Potter again being the main setter. Buffs hit 0.324 as a team.

Cal 3, Utah 1

Continuing the trend of splitting the two matches every week, Golden Bears bounced back from the straight set loss to Colorado with another win over another quality opponent. Bears completed the season sweep of Utah, who were ranked in the top 25 for the bulk of the year.

Mima Mirkovic had 16 kills. Maddie Haynes added 15 kills. Potter had 46 assists. Cal libero Kat Knop had 20 digs. It was a solid all around effort by the Bears.

Cal 3, Oregon State 0

Golden Bears got their first win of this week early with a Thursday night sweep of Oregon State on the penultimate home match of the season.

Bears had such an easy win that they played more players in this one than most matches. Mirkovic and Haynes led the team with 15 and 13 kills, respectively.

Golden Bears’ home finale is Saturday night at 6 pm PT against Oregon (also on the Pac-12 Networks). They will honor their seniors, including senior outside hitter Carmen Annevelink who did her best to emulate Oscar winner Kobe Bryant with her piece called “Dear Volleyball”.

The other senior to be honored is setter/defensive specialist Mackenzie Albrecht.

Cal Cross Country at NCAA Regional

From Sacramento, Golden Bears will be racing for the coveted team spots in the NCAA Championships, to be raced in Wisconsin. The women’s 6k starts at 11 AM PT. The men’s 10k starts at noon PT.

No Bethan Knights nor Brie Oakley listed in the lineup for the Cal women. For the Cal men, Takeshi Okada to join Garrett Corcoran as the most likely Cal Bears to compete for a NCAA berth. Only the top two teams from each Regional advances to the NCAA.

Cal women finished 13th as a team with Annie Boos being the top finisher at 41st.

Cal Women’s Swimming vs. Texas from Legends on Saturday

While the Big Splash is happening over at Spieker, Cal Women’s Swimming will host Texas Longhorns across the street from Legends Aquatics Center. Even without Kathleen Baker, Cal Women’s Swimming is again a contender for the NCAA championship. Led by junior Calympian Abbey Weitzeil, Cal women’s will race the very solid (but not as great as their male counterpart) Texas in a dual meet.

It should be an exciting one, especially for a fall swim meet.