This weekend, Cal volleyball will be facing Oregon State, a team that is on par with the Bears and should give a good fight. While the Beavers are deep in a losing streak with four fresh losses, they have the upper hand playing at home.
Compared to recent Cal opponents, Oregon State has relatively low number of service errors and ball-handling errors. However, Cal is ranked higher in the Pac-12 standings and packs a powerful offense compared to OSU, so the tables could easily be turned. This match will surely be a riveting and must-watch game, as the Bears and the Beavers have similar defensive strategies.
“(Oregon State’s) style is similar, but they are a little different,” said head coach Matt McShane. “The defense that we play is a little bit different than the defense that they play. Their offense is significantly different than our offense. Our offense is a little more conservative and a little bit higher.”
Oregon State prides itself on accommodating a hefty number of set assists, digs and blocking assists. Even though OSU has a relatively similar defense style to Cal’s, the Beavers have an impressive and strong defensive lineup. That means that the Bears will have to maintain their stamina and offense throughout the sets.
“The key is maintain our level and strengths — really our hitting at the antennae. Our serving and passing (have) been our strengths,” McShane said. “We have to make sure to keep those things sharp while trying to improve on our blocking and defense.”
On Monday, the Pac-12 nominated two players from OSU for player of the week. Junior defensive specialist and libero Kayla Ellis was suggested for Defensive Player of the Week, while freshman outside hitter Maddie Goings was a candidate for Freshman of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week. Goings may prove to be Oregon State’s dark horse, as she boasts a remarkable number of saves and attacks. Goings closely mirrors Cal’s senior outside hitter Christine Alftin in terms of an equal amount of saves and kills. Goings has 142 kills and 139 digs, while Alftin possess 137 digs and 118 kills individually this season.
“Goings is a very good player,” McShane said. “We are going to have to slow her down a little bit. As always, we are going to try and hit with a lot of velocity away from their defenders, but we have to get away from their block first.”
All in all, this match is up in the air and could be anyone’s game. Cal has been working hard to keep up its winning streak, and the team is prepared for this close match. It’s tough to say who could come out on top with two fierce teams that have similar offensive players and defensive strategies.
“It’s whoever comes and plays better on Friday is winning the match, and it is really is two very, very close teams that are going to go after each other, and I hope it’s us,” McShane said.
It may be too cliché, exaggerated and early to say that this will be the match of the century, but it will certainly be the match of the weekend for the Bears and the Beavers.
Surina Khurana covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]