As a child, looking up at the night sky and wishing upon a shooting star incurred a marvelous moment: a feeling of miracle on the cusp. But, to make certain that a wish comes true, it requires real determination, effort and drive.
If Cal has any desire to make its dreams of postseason play come true, it too might need to do more than simply scour the stars. The team, still yet to rack up a single win thus far, will soon find itself in the face of two accomplished rivals from the North West: Washington and Washington State.
It is critical that the Bears escape their losing streak, but their odds appear to be grim for the coming two matches. Bottom-ranked Cal will face intimidating opponent No. 2 Washington on Oct. 22, and it certainly will need more than just a miracle to come out on top.
The Huskies have put together an incredible season thus far, standing proud at 13-3 overall and 6-2 in conference, which is quite the sizable difference from Cal’s 7-12 overall and 0-8 in conference play.
What’s more, Washington doesn’t just excel at defense or offense –– it is balanced all-around. Both its kills and digs sit comfortably in the 800s, with its attacks numbering almost 900 so far. With a hitting percentage of 0.276 and an average of 12.6 digs per set, the team sits statistically above Cal. But, since the difference is slight, Cal’s 0.197 hitting percentage and average of 13.8 digs per set might carry weight against the Huskies.
Given its standings in the Pac-12 conference thus far, Washington is likely to win. However, this match may leave an opening for Cal; the underdog story generally surfaces during inconceivable times and is still within the realm of possibility.
Cal’s next opponent also poses a fierce challenge, given its 12-6 overall and 6-2 in conference. The Cougars sit No. 4 in conference, just two spots below their Washington rival.
In terms of offense and defense, the Cougars are also pretty well-rounded. With a 0.249 hitting percentage and average of 13.9 digs per set, they overpower the Bears in every category. Not to mention, the team averages less than one error per match. WSU tends to play much more precisely than the Bears, and that is definitely something Cal must improve upon if it has any desire to be a competitive rival for the Cougars.
The blue and gold’s match against the Cougars isn’t until Oct. 24, and although that may be only a few days away, it could be enough for them to tighten up their gameplay and play a cleaner and fiercer game against the strong team. What’s better news for the Bears is that their Oct. 22 match against the Huskies, who outrank the Cougars, might serve as excellent practice for the Oct. 24 showdown against WSU.
But for the Huskies and Cougars, Cal is easy prey, almost asking to be taken for the hunt with its 0-8 in conference. Given this fact, it’s almost guaranteed that the teams will come into gameplay hot and ready.
With their impressively unfortunate score in conference play, the Bears will need to make major improvements not only to face the two Washington teams but to continue playing postseason.
If it’s smart, the team will take this opportunity to play extra hard and sweep the rug out from under the unexpecting Washington teams, giving the Bears at least some footing for the coming matches. If Cal doesn’t rack up wins soon, this season is but an empty wish, with no future of coming true.
Mia Wachtel covers volleyball. Contact her at [email protected].