“Even if I’m down, I try not to panic, I just trust myself.”
Cal sophomore star Jessica Alsola’s philosophy rang true when she found herself down an early break in the first set of her singles match against UCSB’s Camille Kiss. Playing one of the most exciting matches of the day, Alsola helped the Bears to a 6-1 win over Santa Barbara in their dual match home-opener.
Though a solid win, the Bears seemed to breeze through the weekend with some additional help. Their opponents, short on players, were forced to default one doubles and one singles match. This meant that Cal only needed to win one of its doubles matches, instead of two. The team also got an automatic point from the singles forfeit.
The following day, Cal was also set to play Pepperdine, the No. 10 team in the country, in what was sure to be a challenging match. Due to illness on the Waves’ team, though, the Bears escaped the weekend unscathed. The Pepperdine match is now rescheduled to Feb. 5.
Seasoned Cal players in Haley Giavara and Erin Richardson clinched the doubles point on court two, coming out with a 6-3 win. The pair showed great communication with some excellent work at the net, especially from Richardson, who tends to thrive with volleys in doubles.
No. 15 Alsola and Katja Wiersholm, though, faced quite an unpleasant 6-1 beating on court one. The nail in the coffin came as the opponents held to love to win the match.
Alsola attributed this to “first dual match jitters,” assuredly saying that the team will pick it up next weekend.
“Of course, it’s not the result we wanted, but I really think we, (Wiersholm) and I, really used it as a way to rebound in singles, even though we didn’t play our best,” Alsola said. “We win together as a team and we lose together as a team, so we have to learn to pick each other up and bring each other through tough matches like this.”
Wiersholm went on to have an extremely strong singles showing, giving up just one game to her opponent over two sets, finishing out 6-1, 6-0. Hannah Viller Moeller also gave up just one game, but in the second set, to her UCSB opponent. In a slower, more drawn-out style that is on brand for the Dane, her match took longer — making her the one to clinch the match.
Alsola’s singles match, however, was one of the most commendable performances of the day. The No. 16 sophomore managed to keep her composure and pick up two breaks in the first set after being down at 2-3.
Head coach Amanda Augustus commended the sophomore’s ability to adjust tactics against such a strong opponent, one that was not afraid to be aggressive and use her groundstrokes to dictate the points.
The only singles loss of the day came from Giavara on court one — not an unlikely occurrence, given the sheer strength of No. 1 players on most teams’ lineups. Giavara was also out in the fall due to injury.
“I like how (Giavara) is hitting the ball, she’s just been serving better and better. She’s catching up — she didn’t get a lot of matches in the fall — so every match is a good match for her, and I like what she’s doing,” said Augustus.
Giavara played with strength, capitalizing on her serve with some great aces throughout the match. Her opponent, No. 49 Amelia Honer, gave up the first set 2-6, but seized on some key opportunities throughout the match to take the next set 6-1, as well as the tiebreak.
The Bears certainly got a good win this weekend. And although that might bring confidence and momentum, the Bears missed out on some important on-court time due to last week’s rain and not playing their scheduled top-10 opponent on Sunday ahead of the weekend’s ITA Kickoff Weekend.