Bears Face Three Top-20 Teams Over Four Matches To Start Year
BERKELEY – The No. 11 California beach volleyball team is set to get the 2023 season started this weekend with four matches in Southern California. The Bears will face No. 14 Long Beach State and No. 17 Pepperdine on Saturday in Malibu before taking on No. 7 Loyola Marymount and Concordia Irvine on Sunday in Los Angeles.
First serve against The Beach is scheduled for 11 a.m. PT, followed by a clash with the Waves at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Originally scheduled to be played on Friday, Cal’s matches with the Lions and Golden Eagles in Los Angeles will be played at 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
Cal is coming off a historic 2022 season where it earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament and broke the program’s wins record going 26-14. The Bears defeated six ranked opponents along the way and placed third at the Pac-12 Tournament for the third time in the past four years. For the fifth-straight year, the Bears finished as a top-12 team – this time tied for 11th in the final American Volleyball Coaches Assocation (AVCA) poll.
Ten student-athletes from last year’s team return to the sand this year including captains junior Brooke Buchner, senior Ainsley Radell, and fifth-year senior Ashley Delgado. Radell enters the season ranked ninth in program history with 53 career wins after recording 34 victories in the No. 2 spot in the lineup last year, which was the most by any player in Cal history. The duo of Radell and Delgado enjoyed a strong finish to the season going 3-0 at the Pac-12 Tournament and earning them Pac-12 All-Tournament Team honors while also recording an NCAA Tournament win on court two over LSU.
Another key returner is junior Maya Gessner, who had an incredible 2022 by tallying the fifth-most wins in a single season with 26. She played at all five positions in the lineup and earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team.
Rounding out the roster are a pair of transfers that are set to make an immediate impact on the program. Liz Waters-Leiga comes to Berkeley from Florida State where she accumulated a 34-9 career record. She’s joined by Sierra Caffo who makes the trip west from LSU after enjoying a 23-5 record this past season for the Tigers. Caffo earned AVCA Top Flight status dubbing her one of the best in the country in the No. 5 spot.
Cal Picked 11th in AVCA Preseason Poll
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