The Bears’ inaugural match of Cal’s newest sport ended in a loss, as a lack of practice time and experience showed in their first game of the season.
The new Cal sand volleyball team came out of its debut match with a loss against Pacific (3-0) this past weekend. The squad, made up mostly of pairs from the indoor volleyball team, fell to the Tigers, 4-1.
The Bears’ (0-1) only win came from the pair of sophomores Sarah Cole and Lara Vukasovic, both of whom are returning players for Cal’s indoor volleyball team.
With Cal having had only two practices before the start of this season, the Tigers had a leg up experiencewise, with their sand volleyball program having been implemented last season.
“We didn’t have a lot of practice because we were just finishing up the end of our spring training, so most of us — with the exception of our seniors — have only practiced for two days before the match,” Cole said. “That was one of the things going in — we didn’t really have any expectations. We kind of just had a temperature gauge to see where we’re at.”
The lack of experience was evident in the opening match, with the Bears’ duo of Laura Leap and Caroline Olsen going into its first match pitted against the veteran team of seniors Megan Birch and junior Katy Tagart. The Tigers shut down the pair quickly in two sets, winning both 21-7.
The next Cal pair to fall were sophomore Katarina Milosavljevic and freshman Sabrina Blackwell, playing on court No. 4. They also fell in two sets, losing 21-15, 21-16.
Both matches on court No. 1 and No. 3 played all three sets, with the Bears eventually losing in the final set. On court No. 1, seniors Adrienne Gehan and Joan Caloiaro handed Pacific’s Kat Schulz and Lexi Elman their first lost set, taking the first one by two points. But the Tigers’ more experienced team came back and beat the Cal duo in the next two sets, 21-18, 15-4.
On court No. 3, Cal’s Maddy Kerr and Nikki Gombar also took the first set but ultimately lost the match as Pacific took the next two sets.
“Even the pairs that lost, you could tell there was a lot of potential,” Cole said. “Even though we only won one of them, we’ve only practiced for two days. I think as a team, our whole match showed a lot of promise.”
Cole and Vukasovic played against Pacific newcomer Kimmy Whitson and returning sophomore Anne-Sophie Bauer. Despite only having two practices together, the Cal duo managed to come together and give the Bears their only win of the day. The duo won its game in a best-of-three match when Cole and Vukasovic took the first two sets 21-16 and 21-18.
“I think most people are in the newcomer boat,” Cole said. “There were a lot of great things that happened in the matches — we just have to clean up our execution a little bit.”