Bears Travel to No. 13 UCLA, Host No. 18 Stanford On Senior Night
BERKELEY -- California volleyball enters the final week of the season with a split home-and-home against a pair of ranked Golden State opponents in No. 13 UCLA and No. 18 Stanford. The Bruins are currently tied for first-place in the Pac-12 Conference standings, while the Cardinal are tied for fifth-place.
The Bears open with a 12 noon start on Wednesday against the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA Live Stream and face Stanford in an 8 p.m. match Saturday at Haas Pavilion on the Pac-12 Networks. Cal is set to celebrate five seniors prior to Saturday night's match in Gabby Bellizzi (Ladera Ranch, Calif.), Jade Blevins (Laguna Beach, Calif.), Darian Clark (Phoenix, Ariz.), Mima Mirkovic (Irvine, Calif.) and Katie Smoot (San Mateo, Calif.).
Cal currently trails in both of the all-time series, 69-9 (UCLA) and 80-13 (Stanford).
Lydia Grote returned to the court for the first time this season and set a new career-high with 21 kills vs. No. 17 Utah on Oct. 17. Grote was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team at the end of the 2020-21 spring season after she led the Bears with 204 kills on the year. She got off to a strong start in her Cal career by 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 Grote's .654 attack percentage in the opener was the fourth-best in the conference last season with a minimum of 12 kills. The native of Burbank, California recorded 10 double digit kill matches, including eight of the last 12. Grote ranked fourth in the conference among freshmen in kills.
MAKING HER BERG-MARK
The Bears return experience in the middle in redshirt-junior Bella Bergmark, who started all 22 matches at middle blocker during the spring season and led the team with a .296 attack percentage while 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 and continued her All-Tournament streak by making all three tournament teams. Bergmark is currently fourth in the Pac-12 (36th in the nation) with a .376 attack percentage.
1K CLUB x2
2019 AVCA Pacific North All-Region and All-Pac-12 outside hitter Mima Mirkovic collected 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 recording 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.