One of college volleyball's top rivalries resumes tonight when No. 1 Stanford visits No. 21 (and undefeated) Cal for a Pac-12 showdown in Haas Pavilion.
The Cardinal took down then-No. 1 Nebraska in front of a record-breaking crowd in Lincoln on Sept. 18. Then Stanford lost 3-1 to BYU at home on Saturday. Still, the Cardinal's outstanding performance against Nebraska was enough to put them back at the top of this week's AVCA poll. That...and a few other reasons:
Stanford's offense is led by two-time AVCA player of the year Kathryn Plummer. Plummer has 161 kills and her power has been hard to stop. She had 34 kills in a win over Texas and at least 19 kills in the past three matches. Audriana Fitzmorris, Kendall Kipp and Jenna Gray have also been strong offensive weapons.
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California, on the other hand, is one of the two remaining undefeated teams this season, with Baylor the other. And it is ready for the challenge.
The Bears are outhitting their opponents .340 to .126 this season and have some offensive threats as well. Mima Mirkovic has 124 kills, but Cal also has a strong well-rounded core with Savannah Rennie standing tall at middle blocker.
Swinging away 🖐️. Cal leads the country in hitting percentage. Help us keep rollin' Thursday night in #OurHaas vs. No. 1 Stanford!— Cal Volleyball (@CalVolleyball) September 25, 2019
🎟️ https://t.co/lUOuSc0K0e#GoBears 🐻 // #EarnIt // #OneDayBetter pic.twitter.com/Z09VKlXBaF
The Bears face their first huge test in tonight's match against Stanford. Rennie thinks the key to the game is execution and consistency.
"Everyone knows it, they're the No. 1 team and we're not," Rennie told NCAA.com. "We're the underdogs, and that's exactly what we want.
"They're going to do great things, but we are going to do great things, too. If we stay at a consistent level then we will have a great match on our hands."
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Stanford and Cal history
Since both teams are in the Pac-12, they have had their fair share of matchups. Stanford has historically been more successful, leading the all-time series 76-12 over California.
The Cardinal are currently on a 14-match winning streak against the Bears and swept California in the past five matches. The last time the Bears defeated the Cardinal was in 2011, when first-year Bears head coach Sam Crosson was an assistant coach.