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Cal Welcomes USC To Haas

Feb 17, 2021

Live Stats (FRI) | Live Stats (SAT) | Match Notes (PDF)

BERKELEY -- California volleyball returns to Haas Pavilion for a back-to-back two-match conference set as USC visits Berkeley this weekend.    

The Golden Bears and Trojans are set for a 7 p.m. first serve on Friday, Feb. 19, followed by a 3 p.m. start on Saturday, Feb. 20. The matches will not be available via live stream, but you can follow the action with live stats available on CalBears.com. 

The young Cal squad is coming off a split with rival and then-No. 15 Stanford last week in a home-and-home series. The Bears defeated the Cardinal 3-2 on Friday, earning their first win in the series since 2011. The Blue and Gold are led by a pair of freshmen in Katarina Pantovic (Vancouver, British Columbia) and Lydia Grote (Burbank, Calif.). Pantovic leads the Bears with 74 kills and is third on the team with 51 digs playing in seven of eight matches this season, while Grote is second in kills (62) and tied for first in blocks (17).     

USC is on the road for the second consecutive week after suffering a pair of losses (3-0, 3-2) against conference leader and seventh-ranked Utah last weekend in Salt Lake City. Brooke Botkin leads the team with 78 kills and is eighth in the conference with a 3.39 kills per set average, while Raquel Lazaro is third in the Pac-12 with a 9.57 assists per set average. The Trojans are sixth in the conference with an 11.88 kills per set average.

GRO-T-ING UP QUICKLY
Lydia Grote got off to a strong start in her Cal career, collecting 18 kills on .654 hitting to go along with three blocks in her debut at then-No. 22 UCLA on Jan. 22. The 18 kills set a new mark for most in a freshman debut in Cal volleyball history and is the fifth-best total in a four-set match so far this season in the Pac-12. Grote's .654 attack percentage in the opener is the second-best in the conference this season with a minimum of 12 kills and her .545 offensive efficiency outing on Feb. 5 is seventh-best in the Pac-12. The native of Burbank, Calif. is second on the team with 62 kills and tied for first with 17 blocks after the first eight matches of the season.

PANTOVIC POWER
Freshman Katarina Pantovic recorded her first career double-double (15k, 12d) in Cal's 3-2 win over then-No. 15 Stanford on Feb. 12. Opening her Golden Bear career with a bang on the road at then-No. 22 UCLA to begin the season, Pantovic recorded 14 kills and nine digs to fall just short of a double-double in her collegiate debut. The Vancouver, British Columbia native leads the team with 74 kills through the first four weeks of the season after recording a season-high 16 on Feb. 5 at Colorado. Pantovic is still third on the team with 51 digs, despite only playing seven of the eight matches due to an injury.  

BELLA'S BACK
Cal gets a boost in the middle with the return of redshirt sophomore Bella Bergmark, who sat out the 2019 volleyball season. Bergmark participated in USA volleyball tryouts back in February 2020 and will see a lot of playing time with the departures of graduated All-Conference middle blockers Preslie Anderson and Lauren Forte. The Larkspur, Calif. native started eight matches as a freshman in 2018, playing in 38 sets. She recorded 36 kills and 21 blocks during her first season with the Golden Bears and made her presence known with seven total blocks (2s, 5a) against No. 8 Utah on Jan. 29, tied for the second-most in the conference in a single match so far this season. Bergmark is currently tied for first on the team with 17 blocks on the season.

ACE IN THE HOLE
Cal was bolstered in its win over then-No. 15 Stanford on Feb. 12 with a strong performance from behind the service line. The Bears recorded a season-high 12 service aces, winning the battle from behind the line, 12-5. Isabel Potter tallied a match best five aces, while Lydia Grote added a season-high three aces.

RE-SHAPING THE RECORD BOOK 
Senior setter Isabel Potter is leaving her mark in the record book during her final season as a Golden Bear. The Moline, Illinois native has moved into eighth on the all-time assists list at Cal, currently sitting at 2,538 career assists. Potter is 14 assists away from moving into the seventh spot on the list, currently held by Joan Caloiaro (2012-13) at 2,552. Samantha Carter (2003-06) holds the all-time record at Cal with 5,771 career helpers.  

MISSING PINS
2019 AVCA Pacific North All-Region and All-Pac-12 outside hitter Mima Mirkovic is opting out of the spring indoor season and the two-way athlete will play with the Cal beach volleyball team this spring. Mirkovic is a three-year starter for the Golden Bears and is just six kills away from becoming the 17th Cal volleyball player to reach 1,000 in her career. She plans to return in the fall and complete her indoor volleyball eligibility with the Golden Bears. Another outside hitter, Arizona transfer Katie Smoot, also decided to forgo the spring indoor season to play with the Cal beach volleyball program. She will also return to the team for the fall 2021 indoor season.

YOUNG BEARS
Six of the 15 active players on the spring roster for the Bears are new faces since the team last took the court in November of 2019. The freshman class includes libero Tara DeSa (Mililani, Hawai'i), middle blocker Lydia Grote (Burbank, Calif.), libero Lexi Gruszczynski (San Clemente, Calif.), setter Kendall Jensen (Burbank, Calif.), outside hitter Katarina Pantovic (Vancouver, British Columbia) and opposite Sam Taumoepeau (San Diego, Calif.).

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