PULLMAN, Wash. –
California keeps its playoff hopes alive after a demonstrable win over the No. 18 Cougars of Washington State on Sunday to split its weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
After taking the opening game, the Bears recovered from a second set loss behind Mima Mirkovic's
20 kills, to find the 3-1 win (25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22) and sweep the Cougars for the first time since 2012.
The victory also marks the first time Cal (15-14, 7-11 Pac-12) has swept three Pac-12 teams in the same season since 2013 when the Bears swept UCLA, Colorado and Oregon State. Cal swept Utah and Oregon State earlier in the year.
Mirkovic notched her 14th double-double of the year also adding 12 digs as Cal picked up its 15th win of the season over its highest-ranked opponent, for the most overall wins in a season since 2013 when it went 18-13.
(12) and Maddie Haynes
(10) also combined for 22 kills behind, with Huizenga hitting a game-high .385 clip. The junior also matched her career-best four aces.
"It was a total and disciplined team effort today," said first-year head coach Jennifer Dorr
. "We slipped a bit in set 2, but I'm proud of our resilience to bring it back in the last two sets. We talked a lot about this game being a serve-and-pass game and I felt like we did our job in that category today. Road wins in this conference are so difficult and it's huge for our young team to beat a ranked team at home late in the season."
Redshirt freshman Lauren Forte
led with six blocks, while Kat Knop
led with 13 digs.
Sunday's upset marks the Bears fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, the most single-season top-25 conference wins since 2011 when the Bears won five matches.
After trading points early in the fourth set, the Bears began to pull away midway through behind a 3-0 scoring run to move ahead 15-10 and keep the lead from that point. The Cougars (19-9, 10-8 Pac-12) made a last push to come within two at 24-22, but Mirkovic capped the night with a kill for her second 20-plus showing of the week.
The Bears dominated the opening set outhitting the Cougars 16-11 behind a collective .375 hitting clip. Led by Haynes, who paced the set with five kills, Cal limited Wazzu to just a .172 showing on the attack. Huizenga also produced some timely scores as she collected a pair of aces to start her career run.
Wazzu responded with a win of set 2 outhitting Cal 17-10 and recovering with a .316 attacking percentage, but the momentum was short-lived.
Cal opened set 3 on a 4-1 and kept a comfortable margin the entire way through. Mirkovic tacked on another seven kills, a set high, to contribute to a lopsided 16-8 kill count. Cal also limited WSU to a .079 hitting percentage, while collecting four aces with Kat Knop
serving a pair and Huizenga and Preslie Anderson
adding one each.
After a quick stop in Berkeley, the Bears get back on the road for another top-25 battle as they face No. 24 Arizona on Wednesday at 3 p.m. (PT) in the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The game will be live streamed on Pac-12.com.
For more information on Cal volleyball, follow the team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @CalVolleyball.