This past spooky weekend, the Bears traveled to Arizona in an attempt to scare the skin off the bones of ASU and Arizona. Sadly, Cal walked away with no scares, tricks or treats, racking up its 11th and 12th loss in the Pac-12 conference.
The Bears battled the Sun Devils on Oct. 29 at the Desert Financial Arena, but struggled against the team’s fierce playing and lost 3-0. The Bears have had a tough time in the conference thus far, but junior outside hitter Leah Schmidt believes that their losing streak has the potential to change.
“We have the talent, but we’re struggling right now to find what clicks for us. When we find it, we’ll be able to start winning games and hopefully get out of this losing streak,” Schmidt said.
Future games will hopefully prove an escape from their losing streak, but as of now, the Bears’ losses in Arizona will have to be motivators for such a reality to occur.
ASU opened up the first set strong, leading 6-1 with an ace by junior outside hitter Iman Isanovic. But the Sun Devil star of the match belongs to freshman outside hitter Geli Cyr. The young player led her team well, recording a career-high of 14 kills on a .385 hitting percentage, while also adding six digs.
Cyr fought hard against Cal, racking up six kills in the first set alone. Eventually, the Sun Devils brought the score to 20-11, but Schmidt added three first-frame kills in an attempt to come back. Shortly after, though, ASU closed out the match with another kill by Isanovic, finishing the first set 25-15.
The second set opened with a 6-0 run by the Sun Devils’ sophomore outside hitter Marta Levinska. Cal’s senior libero Darian Clark answered back, serving four straight aces and giving the Bears a temporary lead at 8-7. But eventually sophomore middle blocker Claire Jeter’s consecutive blocks and kill gave ASU its second set victory. Cal improved slightly from the first set, closing out the match with three more points, but still lost 25-18.
The third set did not start off with a large Sun Devil lead as it had in the previous two sets. After a kill by sophomore opposite Sam Taumoepeau, Cal was actually tied at five-all. But, the gap soon widened dramatically after an 8-0 run by ASU, bringing the team to 15-6. The third set ultimately closed out 25-17, adding another win to ASU’s now four-game winning streak.
Two days later on Halloween, Cal battled Arizona, where the match opened up with Wildcat domination.
Arizona led the first set with a 6-0 run, but Schmidt had some tricks to play against the team, soon responding with back-to-back kills to bring the gap to 12-7. Schmidt, a strong force during both games, played particularly well against the Arizona teams, and her mindset entering the game was telling of her performance.
“I went into the games with a pretty positive mindset and intense focus. The fact that we have nothing to lose allows me to walk up to these games and play hard,” Schmidt said.
If the Bears take on the Schmidt mentality, who came out with a total of 17 kills during both games, perhaps the outcomes of future matches will be different.
Cal ultimately lost the first set 25-15, and a couple of star players from Arizona made that much possible. Freshman opposite Puk Stubbe, sophomore outside hitter Sofia Maldonado Diaz and senior middle blocker Merle Weidt of the Wildcats each walked away with four kills from the first set.
After losing so dramatically during the first set, the blue and gold were determined to play differently during the second set. Even though Stubbe again played ferociously during the second set, leading Arizona with seven kills, the Bears kept the score relatively close for most of the set. But despite the powerful play of the Bears, who even managed to tie up the game at 24, the team ultimately lost 26-24.
The Wildcats closed out the third and final set of the match 25-18, completing the sweep over Cal. Stubbe had another victory on top of the blue and gold sweep, walking away with a career-high of 17 kills on a .517 hitting percentage.
In a match of scare or be scared, the Bears lost to the two Arizona teams. But as Schmidt said, perhaps the future will be bright for the team as it looks to find what’ll make them click.