There’s no single definition of what a great team is and no perfect formula for how to make one. But one thing that is absolutely necessary is having people who can understand and work well with others.
And as the weeks fly by and Cal volleyball continues to sit at the bottom of the Pac-12, there is one thing that can be said for certain about the team: It has phenomenal team chemistry.
“Our communication, the way we work with each other, it’s incredible. I feel like I’m able to challenge my teammates and they’re able to challenge me, and it’s become this culture of, we’re here, let’s do this for each other, and let’s leave it all out on the court,” said outside hitter Makana Meyer.
While the team’s communication has seen significant growth throughout the season, it wasn’t enough for Cal this past weekend, as it lost both games to Oregon State. These losses may have been tough, but the games certainly were exciting.
Friday saw the blue and gold narrowly lose in a riveting five-set match. After the Bears earned a first-set win 25-22, the Beavers snatched a massive lead to take the second set 25-13. The third set saw several back-and-forth rallies, with OSU emerging victorious 25-19. Unlike previous matches, where they had a tendency to run out of steam, the Bears refused to back down, snagging the fourth set 25-20.
The fifth set was riveting, as the ball (and score) moved back and forth and the fate of the game was uncertain. But middle blocker Lydia Grote’s final kill of the match was followed by two consecutive points by the Beavers, who claimed victory of the set by a score of 16-14.
It was a big night for libero Jessica Houghton, though. Houghton dug a match-high 20 balls, underscoring the teams’ efforts in improving its serve-receive.
On Sunday, Grote scored a match-high 16 kills, extending her lead for the team’s top spot in kills this season. Even so, it wasn’t enough, as OSU swept Cal 3-0.
OSU freshman Anastasija Svetnik was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for her performance at Haas. Svetnik is the second OSU freshman this season to earn that accolade; Mychael Vernon, who scored a match-high 18 kills on Friday, was the first.
Moving into this upcoming weekend, the blue and gold will get another chance at victory as they face off against Arizona State. The team will travel down to Desert Financial Arena for a double match on Friday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.
Going into last weekend, the two teams sat at the bottom of the Pac-12 together, where they remain heading into this weekend.
But as always, the Bears are focusing on improving the execution on their side of the net rather than worrying about anyone else.
“Volleyball is ultimately a very reactionary game because you have a net separating your team from the other team, so you can’t physically force them to do anything, you just have to react to what they give you,” Meyer said.
Although the Sun Devils do have a slightly higher hitting percentage, 0.187 compared to 0.135, and are 2-10 in comparison to the Bears’ 1-13 record, neither team has any clear advantage on paper heading into the weekend.
“We’re all just looking for a win, and I think we have some really good opportunities to get some in these coming weeks,” Grote said.
This weekend may be their best chance yet, as the blue and gold look to take home their second victory of the season.
Amber Fang covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]