BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 26, 2022

After a .500 weekend, Cal beach sets sights on Pac-12 championships

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THEO WYSS-FLAMM | SENIOR STAFF

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APRIL 27, 2022

The Cal beach volleyball team is strong. While the team is currently 11th in the nation, it are yet to show its true potential. Time and time again, when the team takes on a top 10 opponent, it is right in the hunt for the win but just cannot seem to come out on top. That was the case again this past weekend in Stanford. The Bears went .500 and had to settle for a 2-2 tournament to close out the regular season.

The blue and gold have hovered around the 11th to 12th spot in the rankings all year, but just cannot get over that hump into the top 10. This weekend was no different than ones prior when facing top 10 opponents. Cal had two top-10 teams on its schedule this tournament and once again fell to them both.

Cal’s first game on Saturday came against No. 7 GCU. It was a fresh face for Cal this season and a chance to take down a higher-ranked opponent, but that chance was quickly taken away from them. The Bears were able to pick up one win on court two with the sophomore Maya Gessner and grad transfer Ana Costa duo, but that was their only pair win, as GCU took the match 4-1.

The team scraped by with a three-set win and earned another point when Cal’s senior transfer Lexi McKeown went down with an injury, forcing her duo to withdraw from the match. There were opportunities for Cal if certain things went differently, but still the team could not seem to get over the hump.

Cal then faced another tough test in rival and No. 8-ranked Stanford. The Bears nearly got the best of the Cardinal two weekends ago, so this could have been a revenge game, but alas, fate had other plans. Stanford took down Cal three wins to two, the exact same score as two weekends earlier.

“From the two losses as a team we came together after and talked about being aggressive and maintaining aggression … but it didn’t really happen Saturday from a team perspective, so that’s something we brought in on Sunday and implemented well,” Gessner said.

After two tough defeats, Cal had a chance to respond against some less talented competition and salvage something from the weekend in Palo Alto. Sunday, the Bears cruised to two victories against St. Mary’s and Washington, outscoring them 9-1 over the course of the two games. This was the dominant blue and gold we have grown accustomed to this season. Now, fans wish they could continue that dominance against tougher opponents.

Cal did well to close out the regular season on Sunday with two wins and some momentum heading into the Pac-12 championships. The team has proven that it is right there with the top-10 teams all season. This week is as good a time as any to upset some top seeds, as there is no shortage of them in the Pac-12.

“We have some fire lit under us coming into Pac-12s,” Gessner said. “I think there’s a lot of games we let slip away and I can confidently say that we’re coming in really aggressive this weekend to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

There are nine beach volleyball teams in the Pac-12, and of the nine, five are ranked inside the top 20, with two right on the bubble. The Bears come in as the fourth seed to the tournament and play Arizona in the first match. This tournament will be no walk in the park for Cal.

The Bears cannot rely on their talent against mediocre teams this coming weekend at the Pac-12 championships, because there are too many good teams in this loaded conference. They will have to have that fire and bring their best against a number of ranked opponents at the championships this week.

One thing about this tournament is that these are all teams Cal has seen before. If the team can fine-tune its play and learn from previous matches, it could set the team up for success at the tournament, with the hope of playing well enough to be sent through to nationals in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Contact Emery Goulet at 

LAST UPDATED

APRIL 27, 2022


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