With three Pac-12 wins on the season, the Cal volleyball team is close to surpassing everything it accomplished in 2014. But this isn’t satisfying enough for the Bears, who will travel up north this weekend to compete against Oregon State on Friday and Oregon on Sunday.
This will be the second time the Bears are facing these teams, having lost two home matches against them earlier in the year. Cal is using this as motivation, as it hopes to change the script and come out as victors.
“Beating someone in their own house is a greater feeling than just a win because you get to embarrass them on their home court,” said junior middle blocker Jenelle Jordan. “We know how it feels to lose on our own home court, so it’s good to do it to other people too.”
Jordan’s teammate, redshirt senior middle blocker Lillian Schonewise, will look to put the team on her back this weekend and guide them to victory. Schonewise has established herself this season as one of the best offensive players in the Pac-12.
This was especially apparent last week when the Bears faced Arizona State and Arizona and when Schonewise finished with a total of 32 kills across the two game span.
“We’ve been playing pretty well and even with our loss on Sunday, we’re still feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Schonewise said. “We still have a lot to prove here in the second half of our Pac-12 matches, so we’re excited to get back on the road and play again.”
The Bears will also look to get help on offense from Jordan, who has only continued to improve as the season has progressed. Her greatest area of improvement has definitely been her blocking, which was displayed two weeks ago in Cal’s match against Washington State. She finished with a career-high eight blocks, aiding the Bears in a three set win.
Cal’s offense will need to be on point this weekend if the Bears are hoping to return home with one, or possibly two wins. This will be no easy task for the team, as they are going up against two well-rounded opponents.
Both of these teams have veterans that could easily give Cal problems if they play up to their potential.
Oregon senior outside hitter Martenne Bettendorf will look to hand the Ducks their 12th win of the season. Bettendorf is coming off a strong performance in Oregon’s last match against Colorado, in which she finished with a team-high 17 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Agost will also look to continue her strong play, after finishing with 16 kills herself against the Buffaloes.
The Beavers, on the other hand, will be led by sophomore outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall, who finished in their last match against Utah with a team-high 14 kills.
But perhaps Oregon State’s strongest asset is it’s well-rounded defense. The Beavers did a remarkable job in protecting the entire court last weekend, ending the day with a team total of 74 digs. They had three players end the day with over 10 digs, with freshman libero Kayla Ellis leading the pack with a total of 19.
With only eight games remaining in the season, the Bears are looking to end the year strong, making it imperative for them to pick up a win this weekend.
“Even though the season hasn’t gone as we expected there are still goals we can reach and there’s still enthusiasm every day in practice,” said Cal head coach Rich Feller. “We’re still going after it and working hard.”
Alex Quintana covers volleyball. Contact him at [email protected]