After a weekend break, No. 11 Cal beach volleyball is returning to the sand in a double-header against UC Davis and No. 6 Hawaii on Tuesday, March 23. On the Aggies’ courts, the Bears will face off against these two teams and continue to build their experience on the court.
Cal is competing against UC Davis for the second time this season. After a difficult slate of matches two weeks ago in Southern California against No. 4 UCLA and No. 7 Loyola Marymount, or LMU, Cal will be returning to top-10 competition when it plays against Hawaii. Though the Bears struggled last time they faced such formidable opponents, they are confident that they can hold their own against the nation’s best teams.
The Cal beach volleyball squad is young, with many underclassmen playing in their first few collegiate games. With freshmen such as Maya Gessner, Ava Mann, Brooke Buchner and Katarina Pantovic, the team is cultivating a young but elite group to take on dominant teams.
The upperclassmen, meanwhile, are leading the team. In particular, seniors Alexia Inman, Caroline Schafer and Maddie Micheletti have competed impressively thus far and have set an example for the roster’s younger players. These players are integral in securing a win Tuesday and in the upcoming weekend against No. 4 UCLA and Washington.
Though the Bears’ first matchup with the Bruins was unsuccessful, Cal has been practicing and looking forward to a chance at redemption against UCLA. While the blue and gold are favored to beat Washington, the Huskies performed well in their season opener at the Corban Pairs Tournament and should not be overlooked.
Following the Saturday matchups, Cal will continue its weekend competition with Utah in the morning and Oregon in the afternoon of March 28. This will mark the second time that the blue and gold play against the Ducks, who they dominated 5-0 in the teams’ first meeting.
The Bears have a game plan set up for this rigorous week ahead of them, which sees them going head to head with five teams. Above all else, the blue and gold will be looking to bounce back from their most recent game, a decisive loss at the hands of LMU, and prove that they belong among the nation’s best teams.
Alisa Steel covers beach volleyball. Contact her at [email protected]