It’s open season for the Ducks and Beavers as they face the not-so-mighty Bears. It appears to be all bad news for Cal thus far, but will star players such as junior Leah Schmidt be able to turn the game around?
The two Oregon rivals fought hard before a lively home crowd against the blue and gold during the respective Oct. 8 and 10 matches, but, ultimately, the Bears’ teeth were no match for the Ducks’ sharp beak or the Beavers’ strong paddle, allowing both teams to waddle away with a win in Pac-12 conference play. This was an especially unfruitful fall harvest for the Bears, as they relinquished another two chances to collect at least one honey-sweet win during the 2021-22 season.
For the first time, the Beavers didn’t return to their colony entirely empty-pawed — striking down the blue and gold, the Beavers scored their first win this Pac-12 season, bringing them from 0-5 to 1-5 in conference play.
New Beaver and outside hitter from Ukraine, Kateryna Tkachenko, has paddled hard into her collegiate debut and did the same in the Oct. 10 match: 16 kills, one block and three digs. While it was indeed an impressive feat for the freshman, Tkachenko wasn’t the only new Beaver to contribute effectively to the dam.
OSU freshman Izzi Szulczewski also played an effective home game. Not only did she seal victory with her service ace in the third and final set of the match, but she also made 32 assists and 11 digs, posting her seventh double-double of the season. Senior Beaver Maddie Goings also contributed effectively to the dam, finishing with 10 kills and two service aces.
From the perspective of the Bears’ den, Schmidt has been consistent in providing for the blue and gold. Schmidt had a team-high of nine kills of 17 attacks, but even with the additional six kills from Sydney Lilomaiava, Cal just couldn’t keep up.
Not only did Oregon State finish victoriously, but the Ducks also flew faster than the Bears could run. Oregon’s Gloria Mutiri finished with eight kills and wrapped up the game with stellar two straight service aces.
Although teammates on all sides made great plays and fought hard, they didn’t play perfectly. As an example, Schmidt may have played well during both matches, but she gave up six errors during the match against Oregon. Although the Ducks soared a little stronger and ultimately dominated the second set, they barely escaped the Bears’ clutches during the third set with a score of 27-25.
Ultimately, the Ducks soared further and the Beavers swam faster than the Bears could run, and it took the team’s effort to do so. Overall, plays could’ve been handled differently by both sides, but Cal just couldn’t match the power of Oregon and Oregon State. The family crawls home empty-pawed to the Golden Bear Den, as it couldn’t contribute enough to stop the Ducks’ mighty sweep or flood the strong Beavers’ dam.