With time winding down on the season, Cal’s two seniors are starting on the inevitable path of nostalgia as they embark on their final four games as Bears.
“It’s super bittersweet because this has been so much fun,” said senior defensive specialist Marlee Davis. “Four years is a long time.”
The Cal volleyball team will take on No. 19 Colorado at Haas Pavilion on Friday night, starting at 7 p.m. After facing the Buffs (17-11 overall, 9-7 Pac-12), the Bears will take on No. 23 Utah on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. The last time Cal (9-17, 1-15) faced these two teams, the Bears fell in four sets to Colorado and were able to push the Utes (16-11, 6-10) to five sets before ultimately falling to Utah as well.
In their last year at Cal, seniors Christina Higgins and Marlee Davis didn’t exactly have the season they were hoping for. The Bears were winless in the Pac-12 until an upset against No. 21 USC last week, where their first conference win was further heightened by the fact that this was the first Cal squad to beat the Trojans at USC’s Galen Center in 10 years.
“That’s the first time I’ve beaten USC,” Davis said. “If we were going to do anything, with the season we’re having, it would be to beat the one team we haven’t beaten.”
Davis had an impressive 15 digs against USC, and Higgins recorded a total of 22 kills, dishing out crucial kills in the final set against the Trojans to give the Bears match point.
The biggest problem Cal has faced this season is the lack of consistency on their side of the net. While the Bears have individuals who possess the skills and abilities to have breakout nights, those players never seemed to have a good night collectively.
Higgins has nabbed ninth place on Cal’s all-time kills list with 1,240 and ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in kills, averaging 3.78 kills per set. Junior middle blocker Lillian Schonewise is one of the most consistent players the Bears have, currently averaging a .336 hitting percentage for the season, good enough to rank 10th in the conference for hitting percentages. Sophomore libero Maddy Kerr frequently enters double digits in digs per game, averaging 4.09 digs per set.
Cal finally had the night they had been talking about all season — a night where everyone came together and their top players brought their A-game in the same match, resulting in a Bears win.
“It feels good to finally get what we’ve been working for,” Higgins said. “Obviously, nobody likes losing constantly, so I think it gave us something to smile about, a different kind of tune to hum.”
Now, the Bears will be searching for ways to replicate the feeling they had the night they beat the Trojans. The problem facing Cal is working to maintain that success going into the final four games of the season, starting with this weekend’s games against the Buffs and the Utes.
“A lot of times, we were right there, and then for some reason, we were afraid to go all out and grasp that win,” Higgins said. “I think that against USC, we were able to keep our cool and fight to the finish. I’m just looking to have fun as much as I can and enjoy these last few moments I have as a Cal volleyball player. It’s been a great four years, and I’m looking to go out with a bang.”
Alicia Fong covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]