As the 2022 California volleyball season approaches a sour conclusion, the empty-handed (in terms of Pac-12 conference wins) Bears are left to reflect on future improvements.
A pattern became apparent following two losses against Arizona and Arizona State this weekend. The Bears lose the first set, win the next two, lose the fourth set, leading to a tie breaking set, but lose that one too. This was true for both matches this weekend.
Nonetheless, both matches stayed heart-wrenchingly close, delivering a spectacle of back-and-forth blows. They even deceived a few fans to believe in the possibility of a potential Cal Pac-12 victory.
The Bears hosted the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night, only to be eaten alive. The first set was a quick sweep for the Wildcats, resulting in 25-13. The Bears replied with their own hefty battle, putting up an impressively huge fight during the second set taking it to 26-24, and ultimately tying the match at 1-1. This momentum seemed to have bled into the third set as Cal was able to take it at 25-22. Unfortunately for the Bears, the Wildcats would not go down so easily. Arizona responded and took the fourth set at 25-14, tying the match at 2-2 and taking it to five sets. The Wildcats proved their dominance in the fifth and final set, beating the Bears 15-9.
The night was decorated with 18 kills from Lydia Grote, and nine each from Sydney Lilomaiava and Peyton DeJardin. Setter Annalea Maeder was also able to sneak four impressive kills throughout the night as a result of some impressively calculated dumps.
Not to be outdone, Tara DeSa’s 32 digs made her part of an exclusive group of Cal volleyball players. This grand achievement makes her the 11th Bear to ever surpass 30 digs in a single match.
The following Sunday, the Arizona State Sun Devils paid Cal a visit. The two teams battled hard and worked tirelessly for every point, making for a high-intensity thriller of a match.
Although Cal kept it tight, the first set eventually went to Arizona State. However, the Bears managed to take the second set 25-20. The Bears dragged this momentum and dominated the third set, taking it at 25-21. Set four went to Arizona State after a rough showdown leading to a fifth tie-breaking set. During the fifth set, the Sun Devils absolutely demolished the Bears, ending in a 15-5 Arizona State victory.
The Bears now hold a 7-21 overall record and a 0-18 record in the Pac-12 conference. Looking ahead, the Bears prepare to play their last two matches of the season. First up: Oregon Ducks, who will pay Haas Pavilion a visit Wednesday. Holding the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12 conference, Oregon boasts a 15-3 conference record and 21-5 overall. The fast-paced Oregon team is sure to put the Bears to rest rather quickly.
For the final game of the season, the Bears are set to hit the road in hopes of taking down the Cardinal. Currently holding the No. 1 spot in the Pac-12 and No. 8 in the NCAA rankings, Stanford shows off an impressive 17-1 conference record and a 22-4 record overall.
With clever hitters like Kendall Kipp, Elia Rubin and Caitie Baird, Stanford presents itself as a more than formidable opponent.
Not to mention the impressively strategic Kami Miner, who makes every play count.
For the blue and gold fans, it appears this season will come to a rather disappointing conclusion filled with losses.