Cal Selected For First NCAA Championship
BERKELEY – Cal beach volleyball is headed to the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history. The Bears were selected as the No. 11 seed at the NCAA Selection Show on Saturday evening.
Cal will open the 2022 tournament against No. 6 seed LSU. The matchup will take place on May 4 at 8 a.m. PT. The Championship will be telecast on ESPNU for the first two days of action. The final two days will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The NCAA Championships begin May 4 at Gulf Shores Public Beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The first round of the tournament will feature all 16 teams on May 4 with a double elimination tournament with the NCAA Champion being crowned on May 8.
The Bears finished the season 26-12, and set a school record for total wins at 26. The 2018 squad had the previous best with 24 victories. Cal was ranked No. 12 in the most recent AVCA Coaches Poll and have been in the top 13 of the poll every week this season and every week since April 23, 2018. Cal has six wins over ranked teams year, including a 4-2 record against teams ranked 11-20 in the AVCA poll.
This past week at the Pac-12 Championship, Cal finished in third place as they made a run to the semifinals of the tournament. Cal defeated Oregon, No. 8 Stanford and Arizona State by a combined 9-1 margin to advance deep into the tournament. This is the fourth top-four finish in the past four Pac-12 Tournaments for the Bears.
Cal has had a fantastic season as Lexi McKeown and Ella Dreibholz have teamed up to win 23 matches this year, a mark that is tied for second in school history for most wins in a season. AVCA Second Team All-American Ana Costa and Maya Gessner were teamed together after another All-American, Mima Mirkovic was injured in late March. Since Gessner and Costa have been teamed together, they have recorded four victories over top-10 opponents. Additionally, Ainsley Radell became the 10th player in school history to record 50 wins as she and partner, Ashley Delgado were named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament Team after going 3-0 at the Pac-12 Championship.
The Bears have dealt with a lot of adversity in 2022. Numerous players have missed time due to injury, including Mirkovic who is second in school history with 79 career wins. She has played at the top spot in the lineup in all but eight matches of her career, but has missed the second half of this year due to injury. Cal has used 27 different pair combinations this year and 14 different players have earned playing time, but the Bears still managed to claim their first-ever berth at the NCAA Championship.
This is the first year that the NCAA Tournament has been a 16-team tournament, it has only been an eight-team tournament in each of the prior five seasons the tournament was held. The Bears finished the season in the top 12 for the fifth consecutive season this year, but have not made an NCAA appearance until this year. The team's best chance came during the 2020 season when the Bears started 9-1 and were ranked ninth after defeating No. 5 USC in their last match before the rest of the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The 2022 Beach Volleyball Tournament will consist of 16 teams. Eight teams were selected as automatic qualifiers as the champions of their conference. The committee selected eight at-large teams ensuring two teams came from the East Region and two teams from the West Region.
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