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Bears Split First Day Of Cal Classic

Sep 10, 2021

BERKELEY – California volleyball split the first day of action at the Cal Classic on Friday, defeating Nevada 25-19, 25-22, 25-14 before falling 25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 16-25 to North Dakota State at Haas Pavilion.

Katie Smoot recorded a team-best 27 kills on the day to go along with 15 digs. Mima Mirkovic added 16 kills and 16 digs for the Bears as Sarah Schrag came up with 26 digs in the two matches.

The Bears (6-2) benefited from the return of fans and the Cal Band to Haas Pavilion for the first time since November of 2019.

California 3, Nevada 0
The first set was tightly contested with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. Tied at 17, Cal went on a 5-0 run to take control. Mirkovic buried a kill down the line and followed with a service ace to force a Nevada timeout. An attack error from the Pack and a Smoot kill made it 22-17 and Leah Schmidt closed out the frame with back-to-back kills as the Bears took an early lead.

Nevada hung around again in the second, tying the score at 21 on a kill from Sia Liilii. Two straight Wolf Pack attack errors gave Cal a two-point advantage and Smoot followed with a kill before another Nevada error closed the set at 25-22.

Cal took over in the third, going up 7-2 early as Nevada used a timeout. Three consecutive Golden Bear kills from Mirkovic, Schmidt and Bella Bergmark, followed by another UNR error made it a 7-0 Cal run and an 11-2 lead as The Pack took their final timeout. The Bears went up 20-10 on a Smoot kill and Bergmark closed out the sweep with her ninth kill of the match.

The Bears hit .302 compared to .030 for Nevada and used a consistent block on the defensive side of the net to tally a season-high 14 blocks as a team. It was the most blocks in a match for the Bears since October 4, 2019 at Oregon State.

Smoot recorded a team-high 12 kills with Bergmark adding nine. Kendall Jensen had a match-high 27 assists for California.

North Dakota State 3, California 1
Cal used a 4-0 run capped by a service ace from Bergmark to take a 9-5 lead in the first and it was 18-13, Bears, after three straight Bison attack errors forced a NDSU timeout. Cal was able to take advantage of the boisterous home crowd that was energetic all night as they were able to cheer on their Bears in person for the first time in 22 months. Sydney Lilomaiava buried a kill in the corner and Smoot followed with a kill of her own to make it 23-19. Smoot aced NDSU's Ali Hinze and another attack error gave Cal the first set, 25-19. 

The second set was tight the entire way with neither side taking a bigger lead than two points before three straight from Cal made it 21-18, Bears. The Bison scored the next three to force a California timeout and continued the run, taking the next two out of the timeout as Cal took its final break of the set. After a Schmidt kill, the final two points went to the Bison as the match evened at 1-1.

The Bears stormed back from an 18-10 deficit in the third to take a lead at 23-22 on back-to-back kills from Mirkovic, however, three straight finishes from NDSU gave the visitors a 2-1 lead in the match. The Bison jumped out again in the fourth at 19-11 and the Bears couldn't recover down the stretch.

Smoot tallied a match-best 15 kills and Mirkovic added 11 as Annalea Maeder recorded a team-high 24 assists.

Up Next:
The Bears wrap up action at the Cal Classic with Butler at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Haas Pavilion.  

For complete coverage of Cal volleyball, please follow the Bears on Twitter (@CalVolleyball), Instagram (@calvolleyball) and Facebook (Cal Volleyball).