Bears Host Beavers At Haas
BERKELEY -- California volleyball returns to Berkeley for a Pac-12 Conference matchup with Oregon State this weekend.
The Golden Bears and Beavers are set for a 2 p.m. first serve on Friday, Mar. 5 at Haas Pavilion, followed by a 12 noon start on Sunday, Mar. 7. Friday's match will be available via live stream with links to both the stream and live stats on CalBears.com. Sunday's match will feature live stats only.
The young, shorthanded Cal squad is coming off of a pair of 3-0 losses to No. 17 Washington State last week at Bohler Gym in Pullman. The Blue and Gold are led by a pair of freshmen in Lydia Grote (Burbank, California) and Katarina Pantovic (Vancouver, British Columbia), along with senior Isabel Potter (Moline, Illinois). Grote leads the Bears with 106 kills and 29 blocks, while Pantovic is second on the team with 90 kills playing in eight of 10 matches this season. Potter moved into seventh all-time at Cal in assists two weeks ago, totaling 2,652 in her career with the Bears.
The Beavers return to action after having their matches vs Stanford last weekend canceled due to COVID-19/injury concerns within the Cardinal program. Oregon State ranks seventh in the conference in digs per set average at 14.03 and Grace Massey leads the Pac-12 in digs per set average with 4.38.
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 moved into seventh on the all-time assists list at Cal on Feb. 19 vs USC. Potter recorded 34 assists against the Trojans to pass Joan Caloiaro's (2012-13) 2,552 career assist mark and now has 2,652 assists in her Cal career. Samantha Carter (2003-06) holds the all-time record at Cal with 5,771 career helpers.
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 fourth-best in the conference this season with a minimum of 12 kills. The native of Burbank, California has recorded five double digit kill matches and leads the team with 106 kills and 29 blocks after the first 12 matches of the season.
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, the Bears first win in the series since 2011. Opening her Golden Bear career with a bang on the road at then-No. 22 UCLA to begin the season, Pantovic tallied 14 kills and nine digs to fall just short of a double-double in her collegiate debut. The Vancouver, British Columbia native is second on the team with 90 kills through the first six weeks of the season after recording a season-high 16 on Feb. 5 at Colorado. Pantovic is still fourth on the team with 62 digs, despite only playing 10 of the 12 matches due to an injury.
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 which is tied for most in the conference this season in a single match while Lydia Grote added a season-high three aces.
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.
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.).
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 fourth-most in the conference in a single match so far this season. Bergmark is currently second on the team with 23 blocks on the season.