No. 4 UCLA and No. 7 LMU end No. 8 Cal’s winning streak

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The Cal beach volleyball squad traveled south this past weekend to face off against UCLA, Concordia, and Loyola Marymount University. In a challenge against two top-10 teams and a formidable LMU group, the blue and gold gained valuable experience and ended with a weekend record of 1-2.

The weekend began with a match against the Bruins on Saturday, followed by a Sunday doubleheader — a duel with the Eagles in the morning, then an afternoon showdown with the Lions.

On Saturday afternoon, No. 4 UCLA snapped No. 8 Cal’s 11-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Bears. Although most of the games were close, Cal did not win a set in any of the games.

Against UCLA, sophomore Kate Bierly and freshman Maya Gessner competed in just their third collegiate match. This underclassmen duo worked hard to clinch the game but it ultimately fell to the Bruins by a score of 21-15 and 21-17.

Following that loss, Cal hopped in the sand against Concordia on Sunday morning. The Bears rebounded, defeating Concordia 5-0. On the same day, Cal dropped a match to No. 7 LMU, 4-1.

Cal’s sweep of Concordia marked its third sweep of the year and its first since the first weekend of the season, when the blue and gold defeated Oregon and UC Davis. The dominant effort against Concordia came after some key lineup switches, notably pairing Alexia Inman and Brooke Buchner to great effect.

Cal did not have the same fortune against its afternoon opponent. The Bears’ lone win against the Lions came when seniors Mima Mirkovic and Caroline Schafer won a back-and-forth game in three close sets with ending scores of 25-23, 20-22 and 16-14. Outside of that match, LMU dominated Cal.

Though Cal did not come home with a perfect record, the games were close and the beach volleyball squad still cultivated a positive atmosphere in Southern California.

“This was not our best weekend of play,” said interim head coach Derek Olson. “Today we went up against a good, experienced LMU team; they have a bunch of seniors and players who were set to graduate last year. They are an experienced, older team. We can and will be competitive with them down the road.” “We have four newcomers in the lineup and they have to trust in the process and that comes with more experience. We need to work on some things, but it’s good to go through this now. We have the opportunity to learn from it and be more prepared later on in the season.”

After spring break, Cal looks to get back on track during a pair of games March 23 against UC Davis and No. 5 Hawai’i. These matches will take place in Davis, California.

Later that week, from March 27-28, the Bears will play a round of games in Tucson, Arizona, against four schools: UCLA, Washington, Utah and Oregon.

Alisa Steel covers beach volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]