Cal volleyball splits final home matches of 2018 season

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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There’s no mistaking whose court you’re on when you’re in Haas Pavilion. The gold benches, the blue and gold detailing along the perimeter of the court and the massive Cal logo across the hardwood make it clear: Haas Pavilion is Cal’s home.

But Cal volleyball was forced to say its 2018 farewell to the beloved court this weekend, hosting its final two home matches against Oregon State and No. 17 Oregon.

There were some feelings of déjà vu as the Bears (14-13, 6-10) swept the Beavers for the second time this season Thursday night before surrendering their Saturday match to the Ducks in three sets — again, mirroring the result of their previous encounters.

The Beavers clung onto the Bears for the duration of the first set, continuously matching Cal’s runs with their own. Tied up at 23-23, the Beavers took the first set point with a kill from Amy Underdown off a feed from setter Grace Massey.

Cal senior Mackenzie Albrecht, who has been worked back into Cal’s lineup during the past few weeks, set sophomore outside hitter Mima Mirkovic up for a swing that would win the Bears a point, only to be matched by another OSU kill.

But a missed serve from Oregon State and two Cal kills — from Mirkovic and junior Maddie Haynes — allowed the Bears to come out on top, 28-26.

Cal transferred its energy from the first set into the second. Reducing their errors, the Bears built up a hefty buffer, leading 8-1 right out of the gate. With Kayla Ellis serving, though, the Beavers stayed in the game, bringing the score to 8-6.

But Cal outscored Oregon State and eventually took the set 25-21.

In the third set, the Bears clearly dominated on both offense and defense. Cal recorded a .324 hitting percentage to Oregon State’s subpar .167, allowing the Bears to take the set, 25-17.

Though Cal has done it before, the three-set win against Oregon State was important for the Bears, who have struggled to finish matches quickly. Cal has taken several of its matches to four or five sets, lacking the consistency needed to sweep an opposing team.

Over the course of the season, the Bears have been trying to focus on the present as opposed to the future, and it appears to be helping.

“Something we’ve been talking a lot about with this group, especially since those four- and five-set matches, is focusing on what to do next, in the moment, instead of what the moment actually means for this young team who hasn’t had a lot of wins,” said Cal head coach Jennifer Dorr. “That’s something that’s been up on our whiteboard. It’s something that the team has bought into as a mantra for us: thinking, ‘What do I need to do next?’ Not ‘What does this moment mean?’”

Saturday marked the Bears’ final home match of the season, against the Ducks (17-9, 10-6). Though Cal came close to taking the first and third sets, the Bears ultimately couldn’t push a fourth set, falling 23-25, 25-15, 26-24.

The Bears’ loss to Oregon represented a disappointing end to Cal’s season at home. With four conference matches still on tap, the Bears will have to travel outside their Haas Pavilion to find redemption and conclude the season on the right foot.

Surina Khurana covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @surina_k.