It was a beautiful homecoming for the Bears this past weekend as they went 3-0 in their only three matches in Berkeley this season. The team performed well in front of their home crowd at Clark Kerr Sand Courts, and were able to celebrate their Senior Day in style.
“It was incredible, it was so nice to show up to our courts, which we’re super comfortable in,” said senior transfer Ashley Delgado. “A huge part of those wins was our crowd, a lot of people showed up and supported us and that contributed to our success.”
The blue and gold began the weekend Friday morning with an absolute route against the University of San Francisco, 5-0. This match was a no doubter against the Dons from across the Bay — a great warm up to welcome the home crowd and showcase the true talent of this team. It also was a low stress game that did not tire them out mentally before their match against No. 16 Cal State Long Beach.
Earlier in the season, the Bears took care of LBSU on the road in what was just their third match for the new team. Before their rematch in Berkeley, the two teams held a lot more games under their belt and had gained more experience.
It was a much closer match than the first game on Friday, as it went down to the wire. The Bears had a come-from-behind win in the third game with Delgado and sophomore Brooke Buchner. The game went to three sets and the pair was down 14-12 in the third. With their backs against the wall, they were able to string together 4 straight points to secure the pair win. The first pair for Cal followed that victory up with a three-set victory of their own that sealed the match against LBSU.
The Bears went 2-0 on Friday, starting their lone home weekend off on a good note. On Saturday, they had a date with UC Davis and a celebration for their seniors in front of the blue and gold faithful.
Before taking on the Aggies, Cal’s seniors were honored with flowers and a ceremony to celebrate their time on the team. Cal then took care of business against Davis and ended with the same result as the previous two times it had seen Davis this year — a dub. The Bears bested the Aggies four sets to one to cap off a weekend of perfection.
This was an impressive showing for Cal, to say the least. It defended its Bear territory well and put on a great show for the home crowd after edging out two quality opponents in No. 16 LBSU as well as UC Davis. Furthermore, the Bears took them down without an integral piece to their starting lineup in fifth year Mima Mirkovic.
Mirkovic, a member of the first pair, was held out of the weekend’s matches after she went down with an injury the weekend prior. But no Mirkovic was still no problem for the blue and gold. They made the adjustments with the pairs and were still able to come away with three victories.
To be so effective and dominant with one of their best players out says a lot about this team. It’s reassuring to see that Cal volleyball can be able to work on the fly with different partners and still find success.
“It shows how deeply talented our team is,” Delgado said. “That is a huge competitive advantage for us in just how versatile every player is, and a huge part of that is every person on the team was ready to step up in whatever position they needed to.”
Next week, the No. 12 Bears are in for an even bigger challenge. They face four Pac-12 opponents, three of which are within the top eight in national rankings. Cal will head to Stanford to open two games both Saturday and Sunday. Its first opponents will be the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the country in USC and UCLA, respectively. On Sunday, the Bears will then face the No. 9 team in Stanford, along with Utah.