Bears Sweep Surging Gaels On Thursday
MORAGA – California volleyball (6-3) held off a red-hot Saint Mary's (CA) team on Thursday night at the University Credit Union Pavilion in Moraga, sweeping the Gaels 3-0 in a match that was at times closer than the final score would indicate.
The freshman duo of Sophie Scott and Mikayla Hayden, who respectively rank No. 1 and No. 2 among all Pac-12 freshman blockers, each added several more blocks to their season totals (7 for Scott, 6 for Hayden). Heading into this week, no rookie pair of teammates in the nation was ranked as highly as the Bears' twosome, who have started in every match for Cal thus far.
Juniors Lydia Grote and Leah Schmidt each added a double-double to their own résumés, the former posting a hitting percentage of .333 (15-33) as well as 10 digs, and the latter reaching 11 kills plus 10 digs.
The first set started off with a quick kill from Schmidt, followed by a tight back-and-forth battle between the two teams that lasted for over half the set – as soon as the Bears scored a point or two, the Gaels would come right back. Despite a late 3-0 run by Cal that included two straight scores from Grote, Saint Mary's was able to tie it up at 24-24 and then go ahead, 25-24. It took a gutsy performance from the Bears to eventually take the 29-27 victory, capped by two straight kills from Schmidt.
Saint Mary's started off the second set by demonstrating just why they were coming off a three-game win streak, going up 5-0 over Cal before Schmidt stopped the bleeding with a kill and a subsequent service ace. The Bears then found another spark to post a 4-0 scoring run, eventually tying the set up at six points apiece, then pulled out a six-point run (with two service aces from freshman Natalie Lau) to go up, 14-8. An exchange of short runs followed until Cal finally took the lead for good – and once again, it was Schmidt who slammed down the winning kill for the Bears for a final score of 25-21.
Cal continued its momentum into the third set, quickly racing out to a five-point lead, but the Gaels got up to their old tricks and tied the score up at 8-8. Schmidt broke the tie to spark a 3-0 Bears run before the teams traded off scores in pairs, but three straight kills from Hayden, junior Sam Taumoepeau, and Grote, respectively, put the Bears out of reach for good. A joint block from Grote and Hayden closed out the set, 25-18, and the match.
The Bears will host the visiting UC Davis Aggies (5-4) on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Haas Pavilion. First serve is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. PT.
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