Bears Host Saint Mary's, Travel To UC Davis
BERKELEY -- California volleyball enters the last week of non-conference play with a back-to-back matchup against local Bay Area foes in Saint Mary's and UC Davis.
The Bears welcome the Gaels to Haas Pavilion for a 6 p.m. first serve on Wednesday, Sept. 15, before a quick turnaround and trip north to take on the Aggies at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16 inside University Credit Union Center. All fans 12 and older attending Wednesday's match against Saint Mary's will be required to show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination and a photo ID prior to entry into Haas Pavilion.
Cal is 20-3 all-time against Saint Mary's and is 6-3 in its history when facing UC Davis.
1K CLUB x2
2019 AVCA Pacific North All-Region and All-Pac-12 outside hitter Mima Mirkovic hit a career milestone during her first weekend back on the court with the Bears. Mirkovic hit 1,000 career digs in Cal's season-opening victory over Alabama A&M and followed by collecting her 1,000th career kill in the Bears' win against Northwestern State. The Irvine, California, native became the eighth player in Cal history to hit the double 1K mark, following Lisa Arce, Jenna Brown, Jessica Dinaberg, Tarah Murrey, Alicia Perry, Angie Pressey and Tiffany Rochelle. Mirkovic was named MVP of the Pacific Tournament after totaling 30 kills and 41 digs in three matches over the second weekend of action.
KILLING 'EM SOFTLY
Katie Smoot has quickly made her presence known in the Bears' offensive attack during the opening month of the season. Through the first three weeks of action, Smoot has recorded a team-high 126 kills which ranks third in the Pac-12 Conference and 48th in the nation. Smoot also ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in points (138.5) and 67th among all Division I players.
MAKING HER BERG-MARK
The Bears return experience in the middle in redshirt-junior Bella Bergmark. Bergmark started all 22 matches at middle blocker during the spring season and led the team with a .296 attack percentage, coming in fourth on the squad with 106 kills. The Larkspur, California, native tallied 24 kills on a .556 hitting percentage over the opening weekend to earn All-Tournament honors at Tulane. Since the first week, Bergmark has continued her All-Tournament streak by making all three teams and is second in the Pac-12 with a .405 attack percentage.
Cal gets a boost this season with the addition of two Pac-12 transfers. Katie Smoot (Arizona) and Leah Schmidt (Utah) add immediate experience on the pins for the Bears. Smoot recorded 307 kills as a junior at Arizona in 2019 and was second in both kills and digs. She tallied a season-high 19 kills three different times and registered double digit kills 18 times in 2019. Schmidt saw the court in 19 matches at Utah, playing in 39 sets while recording 22 kills. She tallied a career-best 10 kills on 10/19 vs Utah State. The pair combined for 57 kills during Cal's opening weekend of competition and Schmidt was named to the All-Tournament team. Schmidt is currently fourth on the team with 58 kills and third with a 2.15 kills per set average.
10 of the 18 players on the roster for the Bears are underclassmen as the 2021 season begins. Cal returns five sophomores from the 2020-21 spring season in libero Tara DeSa, middle blocker Lydia Grote, setter Kendall Jensen, outside hitter Katarina Pantovic and opposite Sam Taumoepeau. They are joined by four freshmen with middle blocker Ellie Hamm (Merced, Calif.), setter Annalea Maeder (Basel, Switzerland), opposite Ava Mehrten (Alamo, Calif.) and libero Sarah Schrag (San Diego, Calif.) all set to begin their collegiate careers.
SETTING IT UP
The Bears had three setters record double-digit assists over the opening weekend at Tulane. Annalea Maeder led with 69 helpers in nine sets for a 7.67 assist per set average and Kendall Jensen added 27 while Jade Blevins had 10. Jensen turned in a strong debut season for the Bears during the 2020-21 spring campaign, especially after she was forced into the starting role after an injury to four-year starter Isabel Potter. Jensen started the final 10 matches of the season and tallied 296 assists to tie Potter for the team lead in the category, setting a season-high with 41 assists on Mar. 5 against Oregon State. Jensen appeared in 69 sets and was third on the squad with 123 digs, totaling a season-best 14 on Feb. 5 in Boulder against Colorado.
Ellie Hamm, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker, brings immediate size to the middle of the court for the Bears. Hamm was a two-time Central California Conference Offensive Player of the Year and two-time First Team All-League selection. She averaged 15 kills per match as a junior and collected a career-high 34 kills in a match during her junior campaign. Annalea Maeder is a lengthy 6-foot-1 setter who comes to Berkeley with a wealth of international playing experience in Switzerland. Maeder was the 2020-21 Switzerland Youngster of the Year and a two-time Vice Supercup winner. The native of Basel, Switzerland was the 2019 U19 Switzerland MVP and a member of the 2020 Swiss Women's National Team. A native of Alamo, California, Ava Mehrten is a 6-foot-1 opposite and a four-time letter winner at Carondelet high school. Mehrten tallied 522 kills and 145 blocks in her first three seasons at Carondelet and was voted Second Team All-League her sophomore year. Rounding out the class, Sarah Schrag heads up the coast from San Diego to Berkeley as a 5-9 libero. Schrag was a three-time CIF Coastal League Champion and 2020 team captain at The Bishop's School. A four-year letterwinner, Schrag earned a bronze medal at the Triple Crown National Invitation Tournament and was a part of the 2020 Under Armour All-America Watch List.