Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Li’s 23 Kills Power 3-1 Win Over UCLA

Maggie Lee posted a match-high 23 kills, Sam Taumoepeau recorded a career-and-match-high 18 digs, and both Annalea Maeder and Tara Village had a double-double as the California volleyball team defeated UCLA on Sunday, 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23), to improve to 16-13 (5-13 Pac-12) and get a winning record.

Li had eight kills in the first and final sets and posted the clinching point in all three of the Bears’ wins, while also adding seven digs and two blocks. Freshman Sawyer Thomsen had eight kills (tied with Taumoepeau for second most on the team) and added four blocks, both career bests.

DeSa’s 12 assists were also a career high to go along with her 16 digs, the latter of which improved her season total to 496—the fourth-best in program history. Maeder recorded stats in five categories with 34 assists, 15 digs, four kills, two aces, and two blocks, while the sophomore Sophie Scott paced Cal’s defense with seven total blocks, tying his season high.

The Bruins (16-12, 8-10) were led by sophomore Grayce Olson (19 kills) and senior Audrey Pak (41 assists, 15 digs).

UCLA scored first to start the match, but Li (who hit.500 in the first set) quickly put Cal ahead with two straight kills. The Bears soon put together runs of four and five points to jump out to a 16-8 lead, but UCLA responded by scoring 11 of the next 13 points to take a 19-18 lead. It took a final 5-0 run for the Bears (including three kills from Li) to regain the advantage, 24-20; two points later, Li sealed one for Cal.

The Bruins dominated from the start of the second set, holding the Bears strong and hitting.400 en route to their only set win. Set three was a defensive struggle for both teams as neither team hit over.143, but Cal took an 8-4 lead on a five-game hitting streak and never trailed their momentum within more than three points. UCLA’s pair of three-point runs were countered by two from the Bears, the last of which was capped by a block from Li and sophomore Mikayla Hayden to take the lead to 21-16. Eventually, Li’s 15th kill gave Cal the third set.

Li’s momentum was not slowed at the set break, where the freshman came right out of the gate with three straight kills to start the fourth set. The Bruins had no intention of going down quietly, however, tying the score at 4-4 with four kills; minutes later, they posted seven straight points—the longest scoring streak of the game—to take a 14-11 lead. Cal responded with three straight kills to force a tie, then went ahead 18-15 thanks to three straight blocks from Scott. UCLA refused to quit, scoring five of the next six to go up 20-19 before Thomsen’s final kill tied the score. It was Li who finally pushed the Bears over the hump. Having reached 20 kills to tie the score at 22-22, the freshman overcame a late Cal deficit with three straight points to seal it.


The Bears will celebrate their three seniors on Wednesday at 1 pm PT at home against Colorado (15-14, 7-11) before closing out the 2023 season against No. 2 Stanford (24-3, 17-1) at The Farm on Friday at 7 p.m

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