In the final game of the Les Schwab West Coast Challenge in Portland the Bulldogs (7-2) were looking for a bounceback win against the UC Berkeley Golden Bears (6-2) following a loss to Gonzaga.
Both teams came into the match with a 1-1 record in the tournament, but it would be the Bears’ decisive play that gave them the edge against the ‘Dogs.
In the first set the “Dogs kept pace with back and forth scoring. It seemed every time the ‘Dogs edged closer, Cal answered with a score of their own. After trailing for most of the set Fresno began to claw their way back, working the score from 22-15 to 22-18.
However, Cal was able to regain their composure and went up on the ‘Dogs 24-18. The ‘Dogs worked to get within two points of the Bears, following a burst of scoring Fresno trailed just 24-22, but after a timeout Cal came out to win the set 25-22.
In the second set the ‘Dogs took an early 2-0 lead, and after some back and forth rallies and scoring the teams were tied at six apiece. That’s when the Bears began to pull away, holding at least a two point lead over the ‘Dogs for the rest of the set, before taking it 25-18.
In the third and final set, the Bulldogs came out determined to put up some points.
Again, they took a two to nothing lead, and eventually climbing to a five point lead at 7-2. Fresno tried to maintain their lead, but after some back and forth volleys Cal climbed to within one point.
The teams traded scores, eventually tying up the set at 13. Neither team was able to take a decisive lead, and the set was tied at 23 with the match on the line for the ‘Dogs.
Despite the ‘Dogs’ effort Cal was able to put the last two points on the board, taking the set and the winning the match 3-0.
Bulldogs’ senior Taylor Slover led the offensive charge with 15 kills in 40 total attack attempts, with support from junior Madelyn Halteman, who racked up a total 27 assists.
Halteman said that while their defense was strong, the team’s main concern was getting good passes, a crucial part of setting up their attacks.
“We didn’t start as strong as we could have,” Halteman said. “Going into the second set we adjusted to their game and started to serve and pass better.”
Montez Uiagaese, the Bulldogs’ sophomore, also had a dominant game defending at the net with two solo blocks and three block assists. Sophomore Reagan Leonard contributed on both sides of the ball, with 11 digs and seven assists.
After finishing with a 1-2 record in the tournament, the ‘Dogs will work on passing and serving before their first game at the Mizuno invitational in Long Beach on Sept. 14.
“We’re playing hard and that’s a great thing,” head coach Jonathan Winder said. “It’s good to learn about our team early in the season, and learn what we need to work on.”