Cal beach volleyball ends regular season in the state of Arizona

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Catherine Wallin/File

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It’s a familiar situation for many UC Berkeley students, as we struggle to find motivation for finals toward the end of another grueling semester. Yet, we know the rewards of finishing strong and therefore seek to find any last bit energy to do so. In its last regular season matches of the season, Cal beach volleyball (13-7) heads toward the heat this weekend to take on Arizona State and New Mexico in Tempe, Arizona, and then takes on No. 8 Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. After a busy schedule of late, it too, looks for a successful final push for what has been a great season overall, thus far.

“Arizona, Arizona State and New Mexico are all very high-level teams” said Cal head coach Meagan Schmitt. “They are teams that we can absolutely compete with and do well against as long as we come and bring our Cal beach volleyball style of play”.

Case and point, Cal dropped a close meeting against New Mexico last season. The 3-2 loss was disappointing for the Bears, but now Cal has a superb group of freshman that can make up the difference this year. More familiarity with this Lobo’s team also prepares Cal for the start of the weekend.

The Bears have had much more success against the Sun Devils. Cal found victory in both matchups last year, including a huge, pressure-filled win in the 2016 Pac-12 Championships. ASU has a roster with many bigger indoor players, and Cal has been comfortable in the matchups against similar teams.

In their last meeting, Cal pushed the Wildcats to a 3-2 scoreline in an impressive loss. For the unranked Bears, it was somewhat of a shocking result, as the Wildcats were ranked No. 9 at the time of the match. With more experience and renewed confidence, the Bears should be looking to take advantage of weaker Arizona team than in year’s past.

The weather will surely be an x-factor for this weekend’s matches. With temperatures forecasted well into the 90s, the squad will enter into drastically different conditions then they have been accustomed to this season in the Bay. On Friday, especially, the double-header will be a test of Cal’s strength and toughness. As Cal has had an advantage in some rainy matches this season because of its training in rainy conditions, the Arizona schools will surely feel the same about the heat.

Schmitt and her squad bring confidence into this weekend’s road trip after securing key Pac-12 wins last week. Cal’s ability to shake off the ups and downs of the season has gotten it to this point in the season; consistency will now be key and imperative for success in the postseason.

Specifically, wins over the Arizona schools this weekend will lead to a better seeding at the Pac-12 Championships next week. Those matches will have heightened importance, but Cal will be careful to not overlook New Mexico once again. Whatever the result will be, the Bears at least an early look at the conditions for the Pac-12 Championships in Tucson the next weekend.

Charlie Griffen covers beach volleyball. Contact him at [email protected].

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