From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes, Cal volleyball seems to be giving its all the past few matches, edging closer and closer to a Pac-12 win. With an overall record of 7-19 and conference record of 0-16, the Bears hold on tightly to their last place spot in the Pac-12 conference. The clock is ticking and the Bears inch closer to their last game of the season with only four more matches left. Up next, the blue and gold prepare to host Arizona and Arizona State in Haas Pavilion.
First up is the Arizona Wildcats. Sitting at No. 10 in the Pac-12 with an overall record of 14-13 and conference record of 4-12, Arizona swept all in a clean 3-0 match the last time the two came face-to-face. But Cal has come a long way since the beginning of the season, even nearly pulling off a USC upset last weekend. If the Bears can manage to replicate the game they played against USC, Arizona should be a swift sweep.
Looking at the Wildcats roster, standing tall at 313 kills, Sofia Maldonado Diaz leads the team in kills. The 6’0 Junior is bound to cause trouble for the Bears. In terms of defense, Zyonna Fellows will test Cal’s offense, leading the team in blocks with 132. The blue and gold will have to fight hard in order to defend their home territory.
Leading the Bears in kills is Lydia Grote with 354. Grote’s powerful attack will come in handy against a solid Arizona block. With 97 blocks, Mikayla Hayden leads Cal in blocks. The Arizona match will be an opportunity for both of these players to prove themselves and pronounce Cal volleyball to be alive and well. Tara DeSa will have an important role in this match just as any other game. As the full time libero, DeSa has perhaps the biggest role in terms of defense. Leading the team with 379 digs, fans put their hopes in DeSa to keep every ball alive.
The following Sunday, the Arizona State Sun Devils will make their way up to Haas Pavilion and attempt to knock out the Bears. Standing strong at No. 9 in the Pac-12 conference, the Sun Devils come in with an 11-17 overall record and 5-11 conference record.
Iman Isanovic leads the Sun Devils in kills with 366 so far. The 6’1’’ outside hitter will have to be watched closely and read cautiously. Looking at the Sun Devils’ defense, Claire Jeter is likely to stand in the way of many blue and gold points as she leads Arizona State in blocks, having racked up 89 so far this season.
Annika Larson-Nummer, the 5’4 libero leads the Sun Devils in digs with 259. Compared to Cal’s DeSa, who leads the Bears with 379 digs, backed by Sophie Scott and Hayden, who lead the Bears in blocks with 92 and 97, Cal is looking strong defensively.
In terms of offense, Peyton DeJardin, a cub on the Cal team, has proven herself as a competitive and strategic hitter in the past few matches. There is no doubt she is certain to cause trouble for the Arizona State defense. Leah Schmidt — who never ceases to impress crowds with her aggressive and intentionally placed hits — is also likely to pose a real threat to the Sun Devils.
It is hard to predetermine the outcome of these matches, but both teams are sure to give fans a spectacle and something to look forward to.