In the first home weekend of the season, the blue and gold wanted to put on a show for their home crowd. They would need to come out guns blazing to put away two Bay Area opponents, including rival Stanford.
The Cal beach volleyball team did just that this weekend, beginning a new win streak in the process.
It was a gloomy Saturday morning as clouds hovered over the Clark Kerr Sand Courts, and the Bears set their sights on Saint Mary’s, who made the drive over to Berkeley.
You’d assume there would be nerves for the Bears, who were at the time 10-3 and playing at home in front of their fans for the first time. But Cal was a model of confidence as it came out hot right out of the gates. The blue and gold made quick work of the Gaels without dropping a set — it was an easy sweep.
Admittedly, Cal’s dominant performance in its first match was expected. With the way the team has played all season, it should’ve won in the manner it did. The next match against No. 8 Stanford, however, was going to be the real test.
Last season, Stanford got the better of Cal in two out of the three matchups, all of which were played outside of Berkeley. This season, the Bears got the opportunity to host their cross-bay rivals, and they took full advantage of it. With the home fans backing them and the familiarity of playing in their own backyard, the No. 11 Bears pulled off the upset.
The match began with the four and five pairs. Stanford was able to grind out two gritty points with the blue and gold extending the match to three sets in both. The Cardinal roared in front 2-0 with three more matches to be played.
The next two games were played by the two and three duos. This time, Cal was able to respond to the initial punches thrown by Stanford and take these games to tie the match at two points apiece.The transfer duo of Liz Waters-Leiga and Sierra Caffo won in straight sets while the Maya Gessener/Ella Dreibholz duo fought hard to win in three.
It all came down to the ones pairs: a hard-fought, drama-filled game with pride and bragging rights on the line and one game to decide it all.
Cal was represented by its two veteran captains Ainsley Radell and Ashley Delgado. They had the experience and talent along with the support of the crowd, and they seized their moment.
The Delgado/Radell pair won in straight sets over the top Stanford duo by scores of 21-15, 21-19, giving the Bears the victory over the No. 8 Cardinal. This was a momentous win for the Bears as it marks their first win against a team in the top 10 and against higher-ranked opposition this season.
Cal has shown that it is capable of beating any opponent across the net when it fires on all cylinders. To be able and perform the way they did this weekend highlights the Bears’ high ceiling. Cal will look to carry this momentum into next weekend as it heads to Fort Worth for a tournament at TCU.