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Top-Blocking Bears Travel To Utah Valley Tournament

Aug 31, 2022
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Team Notes

BERKELEY – California volleyball (2-1) will compete at its second tournament of the young 2022 season this week with scheduled matches against Utah Valley (1-3) on Sept. 1 at 4:00 p.m. PT and Northern Arizona (1-2) on Sept. 2 at 1:00 p.m. PT, held at Lockhart Arena in Orem, Utah.
"We came away from this past weekend with some good positives that we look to build on," said head coach Sam Crosson. "Our serving and blocking have made some nice positive strides, and we are also more physical at the net as blockers. Our movements are becoming more efficient and our timing of blocking together has improved, which is very helpful in scoring points.
"It's great to see progress happening," he finished. "Our group is looking forward to the coming matches."
As a team, the Bears are 4th in the nation in total blocks (39.0) and 10th in blocks per set (3.25).
Junior Lydia Grote leads the conference with 57 total kills, a figure that is also 10th in the nation. She also boasts an impressive 29.5 total points (6th NCAA) and 5.79 points per set (8th NCAA) thus far. Freshman Sophie Scott also made noise on the national front last weekend, totaling 20.0 blocks that put her at ninth-most in the NCAA.
The Bears have never faced Utah Valley prior to this season. Cal has defeated Northern Arizona in each of their three previous meetings, the most recent of which was a 3-0 sweep in 2002.
Junior Lydia Grote posted a fantastic first weekend to the 2022 season, totaling a conference-leading 57 kills over three matches (including a career-high 22 kills on Aug. 27 against UC San Diego). Going into this weekend, she is currently 6th in the nation in total points (29.5), 8th in points per set (5.79) and 10 in total kills. She is also second in the Pac-12 in kills per set (4.75).
Juniors Lydia Grote and Leah Schmidt participated in the 2022 USA Volleyball National Team Open Program on Feb. 25-27, scoring invitations after stellar sophomore seasons. Grote's 2021 campaign included a 21-kill game (vs. Utah, Oct. 17) and a 15-kill, .344-hitting percentage outing against Washington State (Nov. 11). Schmidt, meanwhile, was named to the 2021 All-Tulane Tournament team and subsequently posted the third-most kills on the team (200) during the season as one of Cal's most prolific players.
Sophomore Annalea Maeder looks to build upon a fantastic freshman campaign in which she took over the role of the Bears' starting setter. The 2021 team leader in assists (701) and double-doubles (8) also posted 205 digs and 30 kills on the year, as well as 29 total blocks. Cal volleyball's lone international student-athlete is also a star in the classroom, majoring in molecular environmental biology, and participates in a student-run business consulting club whose clients include various Fortune 500 companies nationwide.
This year, Cal brings in four highly-touted prospects from around the country to help bolster its squad. Middle blocker Mikayla Hayden (Buford, Ga.) was one of the best high school players in the state of Georgia, posting over 1,000 kills in her career in addition to 2 state championships and several All-Region and All-County nods. Fellow middle blocker Sophie Scott (Portland, Ore.) earned her way onto multiple State and All-League teams, while outside hitter Peyton DeJardin (Pasadena, Calif.) reached Third Team All-American status in 2021. Setter Natalie Lau (San Francisco) rounds out the group, coming off a season where she earned a spot on the All-America Watch List and the All-WCAL First Team.
The Bears have five juniors on their 2022 roster, which makes up over one-third of the roster. The dangerous duo of Grote and Schmidt only show part of the picture - other returners include team digs leader Tara DeSa (278 in 2021), Kendall Jensen (200 assists) and Sam Taumoepeau (81 kills), all of whom improved greatly upon their freshman campaigns and look to continue their upward trajectory this fall.

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