Palms of Victory: Perfect starts for Cal Beach Volleyball and Women's Soccer

Beach Volleyball and Women's Soccer both went 2-0 in their opening weekends. Softball won a game over rival Stanford.

Below are the Golden Moments from Cal Athletics last “week” (February 23rd to March 3rd) yes, it’s a period that’s slightly over a week:

Cal Beach Volleyball sweeps all sets in wins over Oregon and UC Davis

I wrote about the high ambitions for this Cal Beach Volleyball team (my continuing series will take another pause because I will have an MPSF tournament preview for No.1 Cal Men’s Water Polo on Friday instead). Dating back to last year, Cal Beach Volleyball (2-0) now has an 11-match winning streak and a 20-match home winning streak after a dominant start to the 2021 season.

The Golden Bears have earned their best ranking in program history after sweeping Oregon and UC Davis.

Interim head coach Derek Olson unveiled his 5 brand-new pairs for the 2021 season after reshuffling the returning players, including indoor volleyball star Mima Mirkovic.

Mirkovic is now paired with fellow senior Caroline Schafer as the top pair. At No.2, Schafer’s former partner junior Jordan Polo is now with sophomore Ainsley Radell, making the jump from No.4 last year. Radell’s former partner Maddie Micheletti is now at No.5 with freshman Ava Mann. The new No.3 pair is senior Alexia Inman and freshman Brooke Buchner; Buchner was a high school All-American, and a member of the USAV U19 HP A1 Beach Volleyball Team. No.4 pair has sophomore Kate Bierly and freshman Maya Gessner. The three freshmen and Bierly, who only played in exhibitions as a freshman last year, made their collegiate beach volleyball debuts.

The new-look Cal Bears won all 10 matches by clean sweeps this past weekend, taking all 20 sets rather comfortably with 21-17 being the closest score and 21-13 the most common score.

It is rather fitting to see a Zero next to the Oregon logo.

The Cal home winning streak will last until 2021 because this past weekend was the lone homestand of the year. The Bears will put their winning streak to the test at No.2 UCLA on Saturday before a doubleheader against Concordia and Loyola Marymount on Sunday.

Cal Women’s Soccer beats Oregon and Oregon State on the road, now ranked No.6 by Top Drawer Soccer

Buoyed by the No.1 ranked freshman class in the country, including the incredibly fast Gray twins, Cal Women’s Soccer (2-0) opened their season with a pair of road wins.

Top Drawer Soccer is pretty psyched about this Cal team and quite aggressively jumped the Bears by 8 spots after one good weekend on the road.

Cal 3, Oregon State 1

Emma Westin, a senior from Sweden, scored a penalty to put the Bears on the board. The top returning scorer tallied 11 goals in the 2019 campaign.

Paige Metayer, a junior striker who had 4 goals last year, found the back of the net early in the second half to put the Bears ahead. The Oregon State goalkeeper might have been screened to not get a clear look at the long shot from distance.

Showing her skills, freshman Anysa Gray scored the first of likely many collegiate goals, thanks to a nice assist from Westin.

Cal 1, Oregon 0

Emma Westin broke a scoreless tie when she expertly chipped in a goal late at Oregon.

With her two goals and one assist, Emma Westin was named to the Top Drawer Soccer’s Team of the Week.

Defensively, the Golden Bears also played pretty well. Sophomore goalkeeper Angelina Anderson made 6 saves in the fellow-up to her Pac-12 Freshman of the Year season. NWSL draftee (31st overall by Racing Louisville FC), senior defender Emma Smith was back to lead the Cal backline, using the special 2021 rule that would allow her to wait to sign with the NWSL expansion team that drafted her. However, Smith played the full match against Oregon State but was held out against Oregon.

The Golden Bears will host the Mountain schools in their new home of Witter Rugby Field on Friday (Colorado) and Sunday (Utah on the Pac-12 Network).

Cal Softball beats Stanford once, as well as twice over Cal Baptist

Cal Softball (4-2) had 3 wins in 4 tries last weekend down at the Stanford Invitational.

The Golden Bears defeated Cal Baptist twice by the same 7-4 score (Karlee Sparacino with a grand slam in one; Makena Smith went 3 for 3 in the other), but the highlight of the weekend was clearly the 5-3 victory over rival Stanford.

Cal 5, Stanford 3

Freshman Haylei Archer looked great in her first collegiate start and second appearance inside the circle. She minimized the damage, including a bases-loaded jam in the 2nd inning to allow only two earned runs in the complete game.

The Bears used 4 singles around a Stanford error to score 2 runs in the 2nd. Then two singles around a walk and 2 Stanford errors to score 3 runs in the 3rd. The opportunistic Bears were able to capitalize on chances on Saturday night that they could not quite do on Friday night.

For whatever reason, Cal Softball will play two games this weekend (vs. BYU and UCSB) from Stanford again, but none against the Cardinal.

Cal Track and Field concludes Indoor season

Cal Track and Field competed in their last Indoor season meet at the Championships At the Peak against a pretty stacked field that included track powerhouse Oregon as well as Arizona State, Arizona, USC, Colorado, BYU, Wyoming, Wichita State, Colorado State, and host Air Force.

Hakim McMorris won the heptathlon title in his first competition of the season. The younger brother of former Cal Football and Track & Field dual star Malik was able to set a personal best with 8.16 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles.

Coming off her school record last week, Deshae Wise placed 3rd in the 60m hurdles.

Winning the women’s weight throw was Camryn Rogers with a toss of 21.78m/71-5.50.

2021 Tokyo Olympic hopeful Camryn Rogers will be the lone Cal Bear at the NCAA Indoor Championship on March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Canadian junior has the 9th best throw in the country this year. Rogers was the 2019 NCAA outdoor champ when she had the 7th best throw in then NCAA history with her 71.50m/234-7 hammer toss.

Cal Women’s Water Polo improves to No.5 in ranking after routing No.16 San Jose State

While there may have been some slight concerns that the Cal Bears (4-0) needed OT to win the rematch with Fresno State last weekend, those doubts were erased by the dominant win over San Jose State this past weekend.

Freshman Reagan Whitney registered a hat trick to earn the conference Newcomer of the Week honor. Head coach Coralie Simmons praised her team’s strong defense in this match, pointing to the 11 steals. After taking last season off to train with her Greek national team, Elli Protopapas had already contributed five goals, seven assists, and six steals in the four matches.

The newly minted No.5 Cal will host No.9 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

No.10 Cal Men’s Gymnastics defeats No.11 W&M

I alluded to the midweek victory over No.11 William & Mary last week. Here are more details.

Golden Bears (4-1) won yet another virtual meet (both teams stayed at their own gym but compared the performances), despite a reduced roster due to COVID. The Bears had a season-high on the floor exercise thanks to 5 personal records.

For the second consecutive week, Noah Newfeld earned the Collegiate Gymnastics Association (CGA) Rookie of the Week honor. Newfeld was the top Cal scorer in two events - pommel horse and rings.

The MPSF-only part of the schedule is up next, with No.16 Stanford (under-ranked due to fewer meets), No.13 Air Force, and No.1 Oklahoma coming up.

Cal Women’s Gymnastics update

Cal women’s gymnastics added another strong road score last weekend when they registered 197.125 at Utah. Golden Bears had the second-best beam score in program history with a 49.450.

The release of the first National Qualifying Score, which takes the top 6 scores including 3 on the road then averages scores 2nd through 6th (so the season-high is thrown out), had Cal at No.9 in the country.

At the last minute, the Golden Bears’ midweek meet vs. Stanford (almost surely a Cal victory) was canceled. Cal is still on track to host UCLA this Saturday. They also added a new meet next Wednesday against Washington.

Covered elsewhere on Write for California:

Cal Baseball wins 4-game series over USF (first two at Berkeley, last two at San Francisco):

A 1-1 game going to Top of the 7th, sophomore centerfielder Dylan Beaver crushed his 4th homer of the season to make it 3-1. Freshman RHP Paulshawn Pasqualotto picked up the win and has a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched with a very promising 10 K to just 1 BB allowed.