Bears Host Colorado, Utah At Haas
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BERKELEY – California volleyball (7-15, 0-12 Pac-12) returns to Haas Pavilion this weekend to rematch Colorado (15-7, 7-5) at 7:00 p.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 4 and Utah (13-10, 6-6) at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6.
The Buffaloes currently have a 16-6 advantage in the all-time series against the Bears, their last meeting resulting in a 3-0 Colorado win. Buffs senior Meegan Hart leads the Pac-12 with a .438 hitting percentage, while junior Alexia Kuehl is 46th in the nation with 1.26 blocks per set.
For their part, the Utes hold a 17-10 advantage over Cal in the all-time series between the two teams, having also swept the Bears in their last meeting. As a team, Utah is 37th in the NCAA with 13.79 kills per set and 49th with 12.53 assists per set. Senior Madelyn Robinson paces the Utes on offense, posting an eye-popping 11.67 attacks per set (18th NCAA) on her way to 327 total kills and 4.67 kills per set thus far on the season, which respectively rank third and second in the conference.
The Bears will honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX on Friday night and will also be giving away free t-shirts to the first 250 students in attendance.
NEVER SAY DIE
Although the Bears have only won 3 Pac-12 sets out of 39 total played, it would be disengenous to say that Cal lacks competitiveness - 19 of those 36 losing sets were decided by a margin of 5 points or fewer, including 7 of 12 final sets. An additional 5 sets were decided by 6 points.
START 'EM YOUNG
After Week Nine Cal boasts two of the country's top-blocking freshmen in Sophie Scott and Mikayla Hayden. No other program boasts two members ranked in the NCAA's Top 20 freshmen in blocks per set (Hayden 1.07, Scott 1.05). Scott and Hayden are also the No. 1 and No. 2 freshmen in the Pac-12 in total blocks, with Scott ranking 7th overall (80.0) and Hayden ranking 9th (79.0).
Junior Tara DeSa currently ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in both total digs (304) and digs per set (3.95), while classmate Lydia Grote leads the Bears in both kills (276) and points (325.5). Both players are posting the best seasons of their careers, pacing Cal with a strong presence on the stat chart and in the locker room.
USA VOLLEYBALL TAKES NOTICE
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.
With 582 total assists on the 2022 season thus far, sophomore Annalea Maeder is on pace to surpass her stellar freshman campaign, in which she led the Bears with 701 assists and 8 double-doubles. Early in the 2022 season, she recorded a career-high 52 assists and 14 digs in the Bears' Sept. 2 win over Northern Arizona, as well as a 51-assist, 14-dig outing against UC Davis on Sept. 17 that put her over 300 assists on the season and 1,000 in her collegiate career. More recently, Maeder posted 50 assists and 14 digs against Oregon State (Sept. 23), thus bringing her 2022 assists total to 400. 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.
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