Cal beaten by two Washington rivals, sad melody plays for 0-10 in conference


What makes a perfect song goes beyond the talent of the singer, guitarist or drummer. It’s more than a sick riff, an amazing solo, or a catchy melody – it’s the mix of all the tracks, a chorus in perfect harmony. Creating the perfect song is indeed a tall order, and it’s a challenge the Bears struggled to compose against Washington and WSU.

Cal played a fierce and controlled game in his games against the Huskies and Cougars, but ultimately lost 3-1 and 3-0 respectively to the teams. Going 23-25, 25-20, 12-25, 23-25 ​​in the game against Washington, the Bears found a stronger pace than in previous games, but it wasn’t strong enough for surpass the Huskies in the finish.

For Cal, red-shirted junior midfielder Bella Bergmark played an impressive game at Alaska Airlines Arena, registering a career-high 16 kills with a 0.517 save percentage. Senior outside striker Mima Mirkovic agrees that Bergmark is playing the Pac-12 conference air particularly well.

“It’s amazing to see her reach a career high and I feel like she will have one in every game,” said Mirkovic.

This feat of Bergmark follows with his captivating talent. To add to the Bears’ individual victories in the Oct. 22 Bears game, junior outside hitter Leah Schmidt also set a career-high, ending the game with 14 kills, two digs and a 0.286 hitting percentage. But even with the tremendous performances from Cal’s players, Washington’s game was too strong, having shown his intimidating courage throughout the conference so far.

Huskies outside hitters Claire Hoffman and Samantha Drechsel were offensive powerhouses in the home game. The Seattle squad is tough – Hoffman made it clear with his 17 kills and 0.405 save percentage. Adding a few more beats to the team’s gameplay song, Drechsel also came to the fore to demonstrate his skills, finishing the final set with 16 kills and a 0.517 hit percentage.

The Bears were ultimately no match for the Huskies, and two days later they found themselves beating to the beat of Washington’s other drum at Bohler Gym. Much like his experience in his previous clash with the Cougars, Cal was once again swept away, losing 25-17, 25-17, 25-20.
To anyone’s surprise, Bergmark set a record 11 kills on a 0.500 winning percentage in the October 24 game – an achievement in keeping with Mirkovic’s sentiments. Second-year center blocker Lydia Grote also contributed to the Bears, ending the game with seven kills.

On the No.4 WSU side, there were several players who went above and beyond the high notes, contributing to a perfectly harmonized playing. Redshirt junior midfielder Kalyah Williams defended her team extraordinarily well and posted a career-high eight blocks. The freshman against Katy Ryan recorded 10 kills on a 0.421 hit percentage, an impressive performance for the new Cougar. Junior outside hitter Pia Timmer recorded 10 kills, four blocks and a .292 hit percentage.

Currently at No. 2 and No. 4 in the conference, Washington’s teams are well-rounded and powerful rivals and had the advantage heading into games against the lower-ranked Bears. That being said, the proximity of the matches was quite impressive on the side of the blues and golds.

Based on his performances in previous games, Cal has seen improvements and plans to continue improving his game: “Cleaning up the little things will allow us to win these games two points apart,” said Mirkovic.

The optimism of the team and the tightening of their game will be a defining force in the future of the Bears program.

“The future is bright not only for the remainder of the season, but for Cal volleyball,” said Mirkovic.

But as of now, the Seattle and Pullman games take the Washington teams to 8-2 (Washington) and 7-3 (WSU) in conference, and leave Cal 0-10. Since the Bears played early in the Pac-12 stage, they’ve improved their performance and are hoping to see the song of blue and gold play loud and clear in their next game against ASU.

Mia Wachtel covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected].


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