Grote Sets Career High In Kills
SAN DIEGO – California volleyball closed out its first weekend of the 2022 season with a tough drawn-out battle against the UC San Diego Tritons (2-0), each coming off of wins on Friday and looking to continue that momentum throughout the rest of the San Diego State Tournament. Junior Lydia Grote was, for the second straight day, the standout for Cal as she posted a career-high 22 kills in a 5-set Saturday afternoon thriller. Despite the Bears holding the Tritons to a .125 hitting percentage, Cal eventually lost, 2-3, to bring its record to 2-1 on the season.
The Bears started off the match with three straight kills – two for Grote and one for freshman Peyton DeJardin – before exchanging in a back-and-forth with the Tritons that lasted until UCSD kicked off a 6-0 scoring run that put them ahead for good. Cal came within one point late in the set, but UCSD eventually triumphed, 22-25.
The second set, however, was a different story, as Cal put together its best performance of the day. Posting a .346 hitting percentage as a team, the Bears went on a 6-0 scoring run of their own that included two straight service aces from Grote. Junior Kendall Jensen also earned her first kill of the season, adding 10 assists in a 25-13 Golden Bear rout to tie up the match at 1-1.
UC San Diego was not to be outdone as the Tritons jumped out to a 9-19 lead in the third set; however, the Bears put together a truly spectacular comeback to tie the set up at 21-21. Senior Sydney Lilomaiava posted her first kill of the season during Cal's 8-1 run, while freshman Natalie Lau made her Golden Bear debut by instantly serving an ace. The Tritons were able to hang on for another 22-25 set win, but Cal had plenty of reason to be excited about its play in the past few minutes.
That momentum for Cal carried into the fourth set, where the Bears started off with a quick 6-0 run and followed up with two Jensen service aces and junior Sam Taumoepeau's first kill of the 2022 season. UCSD was able to claw its way back into the match, but Cal held them off for a 25-20 set win to tie the match up at 2-2.
In the final set, the Bears found themselves in a 0-3 deficit early but subsequently tied the score with two straight kills from Grote and another from Taumoepeau. The Tritons, however, posted another four-point scoring run to take the lead for good, despite the Bears making their way to within just one point late in the set; UC San Diego ended up winning the set, 15-11, as well as the match.
Cal (2-1) will head to Orem, Utah, on Sept. 1-2 for the Utah Valley Tournament, where they will face Utah Valley (Sept. 1, 4:00 p.m. PT) and Northern Arizona (Sept. 2, 1:00 p.m.).