Bears Depart For Final Road Trip
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BERKELEY – California volleyball (7-17, 0-14 Pac-12) looks to recover from Sunday's five-set heartbreaker against Utah with its final full road trip of the season, taking on UCLA (13-10, 7-7) on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m. PT and USC (18-7, 10-4) on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1:00 p.m.
The Bruins currently hold the advantage in the all-time series between the two teams, 71-9. They are just 3-5 at home, but are currently 29th in the nation with 12.88 assists per set. UCLA sophomore Francesca Alupei ranks sixth-best in the NCAA with 1.53 blocks per set, while senior teammate Matti McKissock comes in at 35th nationally with 10.57 assists per set.
Cal has not fared much better historically against the Trojans, who own the series by a margin of 67-12. USC boasts a record of 12-1 at home and are one of the nation's top teams in hitting percentage (.284 – 14th NCAA) and kills per set (13.97 – 23rd NCAA). Trojan sophomore Mia Tuaniga leads the Pac-12 with 1059 assists, 47 service aces, 11.27 assists per set and 0.50 aces per set, each ranking in the nation's top 20. USC senior Skylar Fields, meanwhile, ranks sixth in the NCAA with 460 kills and 5.11 kills per set.
Junior Tara DeSa currently ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in both total digs (340) and digs per set (3.95), while classmate Lydia Grote leads the Bears in both kills (298) and points (349.5). 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. Freshman Mikayla Hayden has also made an impressive impact in her Golden Bear debut, leading the team with 88.0 total blocks (6th-most in the Pac-12) and 1.06 blocks per set (19th-best freshman in the NCAA).
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 626 total assists and 8 double-doubles 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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