As a train leaves the station, it starts off slow, but little by little begins to pick up speed. The wheels start churning and that train starts chugging along faster and faster until it reaches its top speed. The Cal beach volleyball train has left the station and it is going full steam ahead into this upcoming two-game weekend, looking to steamroll its opponents.
The Bears take a short road trip to Davis, California and hit the sands this weekend for matchups against UC Davis and San Jose State. The short travel time should allow the Bears to focus more on their health and the matches at hand.
“We are taking advantage of the fact that we don’t have to gear up to travel by really taking care of our bodies physically and taking care of our mental fortitude. How we prepare ourselves for a little home away from home trip is going to be really important,” said senior Mima Mirkovic.
Coming off its 3-1 opening weekend, Cal has all the momentum and should be ready to keep that momentum going in Davis. The blue and gold have moved up a spot in the latest rankings, putting them at No. 10 nationally. A 2-0 weekend would be huge for the Bears to keep them moving up in the poll.
Neither of the two teams should be any real test for the blue and gold as both are unranked in the latest coaches’ poll. Though neither the Aggies nor Spartans are ranked, that does not mean Cal can take these games lightly. The Bears cannot afford to be complacent this weekend — they have to continue to put the pedal to the metal and secure these two wins.
“Give it your all, 100% effort every single match you play, doesn’t matter who it is against,” Mirkovic said. “Especially those teams that are smaller and not ranked, they are the teams that come out against the ones ranked higher than them with more firepower and will to win.”
San Jose State, Cal’s first match on Saturday morning, has started the season 2-3 and coming off a loss on Tuesday to Saint Mary’s two sets to three. Davis has started the season off 2-0 picking up both wins by way of five sets to none sweeps of the University of San Francisco last Saturday. It is clear that both teams are capable of picking up wins so the Bears must come out swinging and put both of the teams away. As long as the blue and gold play their game, they should find success.
We will see if the Bears’ fiery opening duo in Mirkovic and senior transfer Ana Costa continue to bring that intensity from last weekend into this weekend and set the tone for the blue and gold on Saturday. Junior captain Ainsley Radell and sophomore Ava Mann picked up some huge pair wins for the Bears last weekend, and their play this weekend will be instrumental to the Bears’ success.
The sophomore duo of Brooke Buchner and Lexi McKeown, who sealed the deal in the Long Beach State game last weekend with a big set win, also were huge factors in Cal’s 3-1 weekend. Look for their stellar play to continue this weekend in Davis. As a team, their sideline presence and support for their teammates are big motivators for Cal. If they bring that aspect of the game to the weekend, it will even better their chances when partnered with their excellent talent.
Cal has a shot to start 5-1 this season if they can defeat the Broncos and Aggies this Saturday.
Emery Goulet covers men’s golf and beach volleyball. Contact him at [email protected].