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Bears Keep It Close In Big Spike

Sep 21, 2022

BERKELEY – California volleyball (7-4) welcomed No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night to a rowdy Haas Pavilion, eager to demonstrate that this year's Bears had taken some major steps forward. The Cardinal (6-3), who entered the match leading the all-time series by a margin of 81-13, unleashed the full might of its offensive power against the defensive-minded Bears, never hitting below .310 in any of its three sets; regardless, although Cal lost, 0-3, the final score did little to tell the story of the night's fiery competition.

Junior Sam Taumoepeau posted 10 kills on a .412 hitting percentage, while classmate Lydia Grote added 10 kills of her own along with 4 blocks. Star freshmen Sophie Scott and Mikayla Hayden, who rank among the nation's best at the net, added five and three blocks, respectively, to their season totals.

The Bears started off strong in the first set, with two kills from Grote helping to put them up 3-1. A furious Cardinal response tied the score up at four apiece, but Cal started stringing together kills to keep pace with their biggest rivals, at one point leading by four. The score remained close throughout the rest of the set, the two teams exchanging points by ones and twos to keep it tight and remaining tied as late as 22-22. Finally, Stanford ground out the 25-23 set victory, but the tone had been set – these Bears had spirit.

Stanford took some of its momentum into the second set, where they started things off with a 4-0 run before a Cardinal error stopped the bleeding for Cal. Grote and Hayden teamed up to post two straight blocks for points, bringing the Bears to within one, but the opponent later responded with three consecutive blocks of their own to make the score 6-10 in favor of Stanford. At this point, the Bears were determined to bring themselves back – shortly afterward, a kill from Scott sparked a 6-1 run to bring Cal within one point. The Cardinal produced a 6-0 run later in the set to try and put the Bears away for good, but the latter once again brought themselves back to make the score 21-23 before Stanford scored twice more to finish off the set.

Despite the 0-2 deficit, Cal had no intentions of going away quietly, as the home team out-hit the Cardinal, .429 to .400, in the final set. The Bears never let themselves trail by more than two until the very last run, making Stanford battle for every point. Some spectacular defensive saves by junior Tara DeSa sparked several roars from the crowd of over 1,300, followed by two straight service aces from classmate Leah Schmidt to give Cal the 12-11 advantage. The remainder of the set was a back-and-forth battle that Stanford eventually won, 25-22; nevertheless, the 2022 Cal volleyball squad had demonstrated its competitive spirit and improvement to its fans.
Cal travels to Corvallis, Ore., to face off against Oregon State (5-6) on Friday, Sept. 23 at 6:00 p.m. PT.
For complete coverage of Cal volleyball, please follow the Bears on Twitter (@CalVolleyball), Instagram (@calvolleyball) and Facebook (Cal Volleyball).