Cal volleyball ready to bounce back against Buffs

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The Bears are back and looking for a fight.

After a thrilling road trip, the Cal women’s volleyball team is back at Haas Pavilion this Wednesday to take on Colorado at 7:30 p.m.

The Bears (9-4, 2-2 Pac 12) are coming off a thrilling win against No. 23 UCLA and a tough loss to No. 1 USC this past weekend. Cal proved it can hang with the best of teams when it forced USC to five sets on Sunday and is now looking to brush off the loss against Colorado this week.

“I think without that lapse in the third set (against USC), the match could have gone either way,” said junior Michelle Neumayr. “I think we have a lot of good momentum going in just because of our performance in both matches this weekend.”

Despite this being the first year of play for Neumayr due to injuries, she remains one of the Bears’ most consistent players, along with senior Adrienne Gehan.

As always, Gehan will be a key factor against the Buffaloes (11-3, 3-1 Pac 12), leading the team with an impressive .304 hitting percentage. She ended last weekend with a career-high 22 kills against USC. Gehan will be going head-to-head against Colorado’s Nikki Lindow, who ranks fourth in the Pac-12 for blocks with 1.30 blocks per set.

But the Bears have their own blocking threat on defense with sophomore middle blocker Lara Vukasovic, who had six blocks against UCLA. The successful blocking by Cal was a key factor in their win against the Bruins.

“I think (blocking) is the one factor that fluctuates throughout our play,” said Gehan. “Usually our hitting and passing are pretty consistent, and the games that we block well are the games that we win, versus the game were we don’t and lose.”

The Bears are looking to ride the momentum from their win against UCLA into this Wednesday and keep the energy they had against USC. Their game plan against Colorado will be similar to that of this past weekend: pass-and-serve aggressively.

“The key thing is slowing (Colorado) down and keeping the energy up on our side,” said Neumayr. “I thought we did a great job blocking this weekend, and I don’t see why we can’t continue that on Wednesday night.”

The Buffaloes are coming off of two Pac-12 wins against Washington and UCLA, and Cal is looking to slow down its momentum by utilizing the blocking they have been working on throughout the season. By blocking consistently, the Bears are able to slow down the Colorado offense and give themselves a chance to implement their own game plan.

“They are definitely a hot team that’s really capable of beating good teams, obviously,” Gehan said. “But I think we are too. If we just come out calm and the way we’ve been playing the past two games, then we’ll be good. I like our odds.”

Alicia Fong covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]