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Cal W. Water Polo, W. Tennis, M. Tennis, and W. Golf earn NCAA postseason bids

Cal Beach Volleyball just misses out on a NCAA berth.

A three match winning streak would give Cal Women’s Water Polo their first national championship.
Cal Athletics Twitter

Cal Women’s Water Polo faces Hawaii in 1st round

For the 5th time in 6 years, Cal Women’s Water Polo (16-8, 3-3 in MPSF) will play in the NCAA tournament. With three at-large bids in addition to the automatic bid for the MPSF winner, it was always expected that all 4 of Cal, Stanford, UCLA, and USC, will make the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships; the other 3 California Pac-12 schools are the only ones to have won this NCAA title in its history (1st championship took place in 2001).

This year’s NCAA championship will be hosted by Stanford on May 10th-12th. Below is the full bracket.

4th ranked Cal will open against 5th ranked Hawaii. Cal played Hawaii 3 times in 2019 with the results being 12-10 Cal, 10-9 Cal, and 6-5 Hawaii. This matchup should be close once again.

Should the Golden Bears get past Hawaii, they will play USC (barring a historic upset) in the semifinal round. The USC Trojans won the MPSF tournament in triple OT over host Stanford this past weekend. Despite losing head coach Jovan Vavic (the most successful college water polo coach in history, who was in charge of both the men and the women) in the “Operation Varsity Blue” scandal, Trojans are still a serious national title contender.

UCLA and Stanford are on the other side of the bracket.

In 2019, Bears are 0-2 vs. USC (one of the loss by just one goal), 0-3 vs. Stanford (one loss by one goal, one loss by two), and 1-2 vs. UCLA (one loss by one goal, one loss by two). In a season where plenty of talent graduated from the college water polo scene (including Cal losing their all-time scorer in Hungarian Calympian Dora Antal), there are perhaps more parity amongst the top teams than before. That may be even more true in 2020 due to the Olympics, when a large number of top players (who are members of various national teams) will be taking redshirt seasons.

Cal has had some offense issues against the top teams, without a reliable 2nd outside shooter than Emma Wright. Kitty Lynn Joustra, who was great as a scoring center in her freshman year last year, has also been neutralized often as the result. Nonetheless, Bears have a great keeper in senior Maddy Tagg in front of the cage; she had a Herculean 18 saves outing in the most recent MPSF tournament 3rd place match against UCLA; she stopped everything in the 4th quarter, but the Bears just could not score one goal to equalize.

Nonetheless, the Bears are in the small field that is the NCAA tournament. They do have a shot at greatness, IF they can just manage three wins in a row.

The quarterfinal match between Cal and Hawaii is scheduled for Thursday, May 10 at 1:45 p.m. PT. NCAA should have the free stream of all the matches that weekend.

Cal Men’s Tennis to face Drake in Illinois in NCAA 1st round

With the then top recruiting class in the country maturing more in their sophomore season, Cal Men’s Tennis is again back in the NCAA postseason for the 20th straight year. Golden Bears (14-12, 4-4 in Pac-12), ranked 33rd in the country, had a somewhat uneven season, but they also played some of their best tennis this past week with a huge Pac-12 tournament semifinal win over UCLA.

Even though Cal players lack that good individual rankings in singles, everyone in the lineup has the talent to beat almost anyone else in the country on any given afternoon. It would not be that shocking for the Golden Bears to survive the first weekend and advance to the NCAA championship sweet sixteen round, to take place in Orlando, FL.

The first and second rounds will take place this weekend with the first round taking place on either May 3rd or 4th. One can find the full bracket here, which should eventually be updated with the match times.

Other Pac-12 teams to make the field of 64 includes USC as the 8th seed, UCLA as the 11th seed, Stanford as the 12th seed, as well as Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State.

Golden Bears will face Drake (19-13) in the first round from Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, where the host Illini are the 15th overall seed. Illinois will take on Western Michigan in the other first round match there.

Cal Women’s Tennis to face Long Beach State in Pepperdine in NCAA 1st round

Also back in the NCAA postseason is Cal Women’s Tennis (12-8). The 16th ranked Cal Bears crashed out of the Pac-12 tournament early last week, but their place in the field of 64 was pretty secured. Unfortunately, Bears’ loss dropped them from consideration to earn a top 16 seed who can host the first two rounds of play.

One can find the bracket here.

Instead, Cal will be traveling to Malibu, CA to face Long Beach State (17-5) in the first round. That dual meet is already scheduled for Friday morning at 10 AM PT. 6th seed Pepperdine (yes, the Bears got a rough draw that was designed to minimize travel, I think) will play Fairfield in the other first round match. The two winners will play on Saturday at 1 pm PT. The top 16 teams left after this weekend will travel to Orlando, FL for the rest of the tournament.

Golden Bears have some deep runs in the NCAA recently both as a team and as individuals. The team made the NCAA semifinal as recently as 2016. This is Cal’s 11th NCAA championship berth in 12 years. Cal lost in the opening round last year.

Like the men, Pac-12 also got 7 teams into the women’s field of 64.

The defending NCAA champs Stanford is the 3rd seed in this year’s bracket. UCLA got the 7th overall seed. Washington got the 10th seed. USC got the 13th seed. Arizona State and Washington State are also in the field.

Cal Beach Volleyball does not get an at-large bid

On the bubble for the NCAA selection, Cal Beach Volleyball (22-9) did not get a bid as one of the 8 teams in the NCAA tournament. Golden Bears finish the season as the 10th ranked team in the country.

The NCAA selection is geographically separated into 3 top teams in the west and 3 top teams in the east. There are also two at-large bids (that went to the west this year). Ultimately, Hawaii and Cal Poly got the last two at-large spots ahead of the Bears.

Against Cal Poly, Bears split two matches - both were 3-2 results. Against Hawaii, Cal Bears lost both matches by the slimmest 3-2 margin. That is how close the Cal Bears got to make their first NCAA Championship in program history in 2019. Enough talent should be back for the Golden Bears to take another step forward as a program in 2020.

Cal Women’s Golf going to Auburn Regional

Announced last week, Cal Women’s Golf is back in the postseason for the 20th straight year. Bears are Auburn, Alabama bound for play early next week (May 6th to 8th).

The top 6 teams and 3 individuals (not from those teams) will advance to the NCAA Championship, scheduled for May 17th to 22nd from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Bears are the 12th seed in the Auburn Regional that will also have the following teams:

  1. Duke University
  2. Vanderbilt University
  3. Florida State University
  4. Auburn University
  5. University of Virginia
  6. Furman University (Southern Conference)
  7. Clemson University
  8. University of Houston (American Athletic Conference)
  9. Kennesaw State University (Atlantic Sun Conference)
  10. University of Alabama
  11. University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  12. University of California, Berkeley
  13. University of Maryland, College Park
  14. East Carolina University
  15. University of Denver (The Summit League)
  16. University of South Alabama (Sun Belt Conference)
  17. University at Albany (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
  18. Murray State University (Ohio Valley Conference)

Cal senior Cindy Oh has had a great spring with not just several top-10 finishes but also this SportsCenter Top 10 moment.

Oh and freshman Katherine Zhu earned Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention honors. Cal lineup also has senior Marianne Li who made the NCAA as an individual her freshman year in 2016. The entire Cal team made the NCAA Championship in 2017.

Cal Men’s Golf will find out NCAA fate on May 1st

In case you are wondering, Cal Men’s Golf will find out their NCAA Regional placement later this week. Led by the Pac-12 medalist (top individual finisher) Collin Morikawa, this Cal team certainly has the talent to not just make a deep, deep run into the NCAA Championship but win the whole thing when the final 8 has to switch to match play. I will certainly write more about Cal Men’s Golf ahead of their NCAA Regional play.

In case you missed it, Morikawa made this great shot for an eagle, which helped him win the Pac-12 Championships.