Cal Wins Two Elimination Contests At Pac-12 Championship
LOS ANGELES – The No. 11 ranked and fifth-seeded Cal beach volleyball team won two elimination contests on Friday. The Bears defeated eighth-seed Oregon in a 3-0 match that started at 8 a.m. They then came back later in the day with a 3-2 victory over No. 8 ranked and third-seeded Arizona in a back-and-forth contest. Cal faced match point vs. Arizona, which would have ended the team's season, but the Bears fought back to force a third-set tiebreaker and win an exciting dual.
#5 CAL 3, #8 OREGON 0
Coming off a loss to fourth-seeded Stanford yesterday, the Bears needed to win to keep advancing in the Pac-12 Championship. They took care of the Ducks on Saturday with a 3-0 win.
The Bears jumped out to a lead thanks to the work on court five of their two freshmen, Brooke Buchner and Grace Paulson. The duo won the first set 21-12 as Buchner finished the set with a nice cut shot down the line against an uncontested block after she had two nice knuckle saves on the rally. The Bears followed with a 21-16 victory in the second set to grab the first point of the day.
Court three was the other court going in the first flight of action. The Bears' duo of Alexia Inman and Ava Mann fell behind early, losing 21-16 in the first set, despite the loss Cal picked up momentum at the end of the set, fighting off three set points before falling. That momentum carried into set two as Cal rolled 21-14 to even the match. Cal held an 8-7 lead in the third set, but the Bears were able to go on a 5-1 run to take a commanding lead and secure Cal's second match win.
Mima Mirkovic and Caroline Schafer won in straight sets on the top court to secure the win for the Bears. Schafer closed out the first set by fooling the Oregon defender and hammering the ball into the open sand. They jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the second set, but an injury to Oregon's Carly Wallace forced the Ducks to retire, ending the set 21-3 and giving the Bears the win.
Cal claimed the first set on the second court with a 21-13 win as Radell closed the first set with a kill off the Oregon block. Cal had a 5-1 lead at the time the match was called. The Bears were up 11-7 on court four in the first set when the match was called.
#5 CAL 3 #3 ARIZONA 2
Cal lost 4-1 to Arizona in the team's only matchup this year, but the Bears showed on Friday the progress the team has made this year, as the young group was able to fight back and win a thrilling match vs. one of the top teams in the country.
Arizona took the early lead on court three as they were able to hang on to a three-set match. The Bears' pair of Inman and Mann fell in the first set 21-17. They bounced back in the second set and jumped out to an 8-6 lead after Inman had three blocks in a four-point stretch to provide the Bears some early momentum. However, Mann was able to close out the set with the final four points for the Bears all on well-placed attacks. The third set was all Arizona as Natalie Anselmo and Carly Lowry started on a 7-0 run and went on to win 15-3.
The Bears responded on the fifth pair as the freshman duo of Buchner and Paulson claimed the win. With the score tied at 19 in the first set, Buchner reacted well to a wide set and lofted a ball into the back corner to give the Bears set point, then Arizona went wide on the following point to give the Bears the set. Arizona took the second set, 21-12. However, Cal responded in the third set as they were able to take a 13-11 lead and Paulson gave them set point with an ace. However, Arizona scored four straight to take the lead. Buchner saved the match with a kill, and Paulson gave the Bears a lead before Arizona shot wide to give the Bears the match.
The Bears took the lead on the top court as Mirkovic and Schafer rolled to a straight set victory, 21-17, 21-11. Mirkovic ended the first set with a huge swing to give the Bears the lead. The senior did the same in the second set to seal a dominant victory and give the Bears a 2-1 lead in the match.
Arizona evened the score with a win on court four. The Wildcats took a straight set victory, 21-12, 21-17, to set up a decisive match on court two.
Court two was a battle as both of the first two matches were two-point decisions. Arizona won the first set 21-19, but Cal answered with a 22-20 victory in the second set. The Wildcats had a match point at 20-19 in the second set, but Polo won a joust at the net, which set Radell up with a hammer. Polo gave the Bears the lead with a shot that found the back tape. Then, Radell stuffed an Arizona attack with a block to send the match to a third set. Cal carried the momentum into the third set as they started on a 6-2 run to force an Arizona timeout. The Bears held on to that lead for the rest of the set, as Radell sealed the match with a cross-court kill before being mobbed by her teammates.
The win was Cal's fifth ranked victory of the season and fourth top-10 win of the year.
The Bears eliminated Arizona from the Pac-12 Championship. Cal will be back in action tomorrow as they work through the contender's bracket. Cal will take to the sand on Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at Mapes Beach where they will play the winner of Stanford and Arizona State, who are playing on Friday night. If the Bears can win that match they will play in the semifinal vs. the loser of the USC vs. UCLA matchup at 12:30 p.m. If they win that they will compete for the Pac-12 Championship at 4 p.m. The first two games are scheduled for Pac-12 Bay Area, while the championship match will be on Pac-12 Network.
#5 CAL 3, #8 OREGON 0
#1 – Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer (CAL) def. Carly Wallace/Madelyn LaFollette (ORE) – 21-10, 21-3 (retired)
#2 – Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo (CAL) vs. Josie Cole/Anastasia Lima (ORE) – 21-13, 5-1 unfinished
#3 – Alexia Inman/Ava Mann (CAL) def. Vivian Donovan/Zoe Almanza (ORE) – 16-21, 21-14, 15-12
#4 – Maddie Micheletti/Maya Gessner (CAL) vs. Bea Wetton/Ashley Schroeder (ORE) – 11-7 unfinished
#5 – Brooke Buchner/Grace Paulson (CAL) def. Savannah Siegrist/Delaney Hopen (ORE) – 21-12, 21-16
Order of Finish – 5, 3, 1
#5 CAL 3, #3 ARIZONA 0
#1 – Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer (CAL) def. Alana Rennie/Alex Parkhurst (ARIZ) – 21-17, 21-11
#2 – Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo (CAL) vs. Sarah Blacker/Brooke Burling (ARIZ) –
#3 – Natalie Anselmo/Carly Lowry (ARIZ) def. Alexia Inman/Ava Mann (CAL) – 21-17, 19-21, 15-3
#4 – Dana Parker/Mady Noble (ARIZ) def. Maddie Micheletti/Maya Gessner (CAL) – 21-12, 21-17
#5 – Brooke Buchner/Grace Paulson (CAL) def. Olivia Hallaran/Hope Shannon (ARIZ) – 21-19, 12-21, 17-15
Order of Finish – 3, 5, 1, 4, 2