The Cal beach volleyball team paid a visit to a familiar South Bay foe, Santa Clara, this weekend. This was the Bears’ lone match of the week that took place Friday, and they sure made the most of it, defeating the Broncos in style four sets to one on their home courts.
The lone loss for the blue and gold came at the hands of the Santa Clara 1s pair in three sets. It was tight throughout the third, even exceeding the 15-point mark before the Santa Clara pair eventually got the best of the Bear pair, 23-21.
This was the first time Cal had a one-game weekend the entire season. It was a bit out of the ordinary, but the squad used the quiet weekend as an opportunity to rest up and refine its skills for the upcoming weekend — one that certainly will not be as easy as this one.
“Recovery is really big at this point in the season as we near the end, our bodies aren’t feeling as fresh as they were,” said senior transfer Natalie Martin.
The bout against Santa Clara was a walk in the park for the No. 12 Cal team, just as it should have been. The Broncos came into the match 8-14 overall and had already lost to the Bears 5-0 earlier in the season.
The team travels down to Stanford this upcoming weekend for two matches, each on Saturday and Sunday. These games will be a much tougher test for Cal, because among its opponents are two top-10 teams and another who is in the hunt for a spot in the top 20.
The matches this week could have big implications on rankings heading into the postseason, so it is vital that Cal brings its best and come out feeling confident.
“Definitely really exciting, we all know it’s a really big weekend for us,” Martin said. “It’s gonna be crucial to pull out some wins, especially in regards to Gulf Shores.”
On Saturday, the Bears will face off against two top-10 opponents: No. 7 Grand Canyon and No. 9 Stanford. GCU is an opponent Cal has not faced this season and is coming into the tournament with an 18-6 record. On the other hand, Cal played Stanford two weekends ago and just barely fell to the Cardinal three games to two. This will be a revenge game for the blue and gold to hopefully flip the score on Stanford and come away with a win.
“We’re all excited to get another matchup with Stanford after we were so close to beating them last time. I know we really want to beat them especially because they’re our rival,” Martin said.
On Sunday, the level of competition drops but just slightly. Cal will begin the day against Saint Mary’s, who is 13-12 on the year, before playing University of Washington, who is just outside of the top-20 rankings. The Huskies will be hungry for a win and should not be overlooked by the Bears’ team. It is vital that Cal stays focused Sunday and picks up wins against teams it’s supposed to beat.
The Bears have been without their star 1s player, fifth-year senior Mima Mirkovic, who went down with an injury against Arizona on March 26. The blue and gold have managed without her, but it would be a big boost to this Cal team if she would be able to compete this upcoming weekend — though the chances of her playing are still unclear.
This weekend in Stanford will conclude the blue and gold’s regular season. It is the last opportunity for the Bears to make any moves in the polls before the postseason, which makes the games against GCU and Stanford even more interesting.
If Cal can upset either one of those teams, it could do them wonders in terms of rankings and momentum heading into the Pac-12 championships the following week.