Previews for homecoming weekend match-ups

Ketki Samel/Staff

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Football

Fresh off an unlucky and unforgiving loss at the hands of Arizona last weekend, Cal (3-2, 0-2) is seeking to avoid a third straight loss when the team hosts the winless UCLA Bruins on homecoming weekend. Through five games, the Bears have three wins, having given all three quarterbacks chances to start under center. Cal joins Air Force and Western Kentucky as one of the only three Division I Football Bowl Subdivision programs to use three starting quarterbacks in 2018.

Heading into the game, Brandon McIlwain is the likeliest of the three Cal quarterbacks to start and take most of the snaps, and as the Bears’ leading rusher, he’ll look to carve up a Bruin defense that has struggled to keep opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. But don’t let the 0-5 record and ugly stats fool you just yet — UCLA is due for a win once head coach Chip Kelly’s pieces begin to mesh. Last week’s performance was a huge step in the right direction, as the new-look Bruins nearly took the college football world by surprise, putting a scare in No. 7 Washington.

— Josh Yuen

Volleyball

Coming hot off a 3-2 upset over then-No. 24 Utah, Cal volleyball is ready to keep stirring the pot as it hosts Washington and Washington State this weekend. The No. 18 Huskies, set to play the Bears on Friday, surrendered matches to Utah, 3-1, and Arizona State, 3-0, in the first round of Pac-12 play. The Bears also fell to the Sun Devils, but their harrowing 3-2 loss and victory over Utah suggest that Cal certainly has the ability to topple Washington.

 

Washington State continues to be included in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 25 rankings, claiming the No. 21 slot as its own. Win or lose, the Cougars have proven this season that they won’t go down without a fight. Washington State is led offensively by Taylor Mims, who currently ranks in the Pac-12’s top five for kills per set and number of kills. Cal’s steadily improving defense, featuring middle blocker Lauren Forte at the front and Kat Knop in the back, will need to remain disciplined to come out ahead this weekend.

— Surina Khurana

Field hockey

This Friday, the Cal field hockey team is set to face off with No. 21 Stanford at 4 p.m. on Underhill Field. Cal is currently 3-8, but the team’s record is deceptive: Seven of the Bears’ eight losses came against top-15 opponents, and even in losses the Bears have been competitive. Two losses came in overtime, and multiple others were closer than the box scores may indicate.

The Bears are led on offense by sophomore forward Megan Rodgers, who has scored 10 times and assisted on three more of Cal’s 17 goals this season. Senior forward Melina Moore has also played well recently, scoring twice in two games this past weekend. Defensively, freshman Brynn Zorilla paces a strong backfield that has allowed less than 12 shots per game. Last season, Cal knocked off then-No. 14 Stanford 4-2 at home, and the team will look for another upset victory this afternoon.

— Tim Sun

Men’s water polo

The Bears will open their MPSF campaign Friday afternoon against Loyola Marymount University across the bay on Stanford’s campus. The two squads have yet to meet this season, but recent history points in Cal’s favor, including a 16-1 beatdown last season.

Should Cal get past LMU, the team would then face the winner of UC Santa Barbara and Pomona’s showdown. From there, the potential opponents for the Bears are up to the field, but the team is expected to make a deep run into the tournament and face some top-level competition.

Senior Vassilis Tzavaras and his teammate, junior Safak Simsek, top the stat sheet and are tied for the team lead in scoring, with 27 goals a piece. Cal will need those offensive weapons to produce this weekend while also relying on the top-notch goalkeeping it has gotten from junior Bernardo Carelli, who is averaging 11.69 saves per contest. At the MPSF Invitational in 2017, Cal made a run to the semifinals before narrowly falling to UCLA, 9-8. In 2016, the Bears got one step further, but once again lost at the hands of the Bruins in the final match.

— Charlie Griffen

Cross country

The pressures of midterm season have many students wishing they could simply run away from their problems. For the Cal cross country team, however, running is the pressure — and like midterms, the task at hand won’t be simple.

This Saturday will have the Bears splitting up once again between Sunnyvale, California and Madison, Wisconsin for the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational and the 2018 Wisconsin Pre-Nationals.

According to the most recent Division I National Coaches’ Poll, the men’s team’s West Region ranking dropped three positions from its previous ranking, from No. 9 to No. 12. One month ago, the women’s side was ranked No. 21 in the nation, but the team has now completely dropped from the rankings.

Although the goal of each cross country competition is always to walk (or more accurately, run) away on top, both events will serve as significant learning experiences for the Bears. The Santa Clara event will likely expose newer, younger team members to the competition experience, and the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals will introduce top Bears to the race course and to elite competitors who they will be facing off with again at the NCAA Championship on Nov. 17.

— Stephanie Le

Contact the Daily Cal sports staff at [email protected].