Just like clockwork.
As the Cal beach volleyball team journeyed to Davis for a two-game set against the Davis Aggies and the San Jose State Broncos, it took care of its opponents easily. The team did everything it needed to do to win in dominant fashion.
Cal beach volleyball comes out of the weekend with two more wins under its belt, moving it to 5-1 on the young season. After two weekends of play, the Bears’ only loss came to fourth-ranked LMU; otherwise, they have been near perfection. It was pure dominance this weekend for the blue and gold as they only dropped 1 point over the entire two matches.
This outcome was to be expected, however, for neither opponent is ranked and the Bears are the 10th-ranked team in the nation.
However, it is not uncommon for the higher seed to show complacency and the underdog to win against their “preferred” opponent. This did not happen for the blue and gold, and they took care of business as expected.
“Ava and I focus on staying aggressive and staying focused; the pairs (we face) are all going to be good so it’s a matter of staying focused and playing our game,” said junior captain Ainsley Radell.
The Bears stayed focused throughout the day — a sign proving that the blue and gold’s top-10 ranking is not a fluke and is legitimate. They have plowed through opponents they are supposed to beat and challenged teams ranked higher than them.
First on the docket was the game against San Jose State — a game which posed no problem for the Cal beach team. They won all five games played against the Broncos and only let one go to three sets. This 5-0 route also highlighted the overall depth on this Cal team as well, which will be needed more against higher-tiered opponents.
The Bears’ second game against UC Davis had the team’s depth and talent on full display. The Bears took this match 4-1, only dropping the one game in a tight three-set battle. The blue and gold got the job done in style this weekend, never allowing their opponent to feel like they had a chance.
Redshirt senior Ana Costa and fifth-year Mima Mirkovic were dominant Saturday and continued to show their experience and talent as the ones for the Bears this weekend. The four and five pairs for Cal, redshirt sophomore Natalie Martin paired with sophomore Maya Gessner and redshirt junior Lexi McKeown paired with freshman standout Ella Dreibholz each had very solid performances as pairs Saturday.
The blue and gold had a big roster turnover this past offseason, welcoming in four transfers and four new freshmen, but that has not seemed to have had any effect on the team chemistry thus far — they have only made the team better.
“Our team specifically is known for our team culture and being super close, so immediately when all the girls came we welcomed them with open arms,” Radell said. It’s been a really smooth transition and they are all great additions to our team.”
It is clear that the Bear pairs are finding a rhythm with one another; their chemistry is getting better and better in every match they play.
Though these matches against the Broncos and the Aggies were not big challenges for the blue and gold this weekend, they took care of them like the 10th-ranked team in the nation should have.
Their wins this weekend highlight two important facets for the Bears: They take no days off, and have tremendous depth. Each of those characteristics will be increasingly important as the season progresses.
The Bears are traveling to Hawaii this week for games against ninth-ranked Hawaii and fifth-ranked TCU on Thursday. On Friday they face unranked Nebraska and UC Davis again. The blue and gold will have a chance to go up two matches to none on the Aggies as well as face some high-level competition Thursday with TCU and Hawaii.