Cal Earns Doubleheader Victories Over UC Davis, No. 6 Hawaii
DAVIS, CALIFORNIA – No. 11 California beach volleyball won two matches as they defeated UC Davis and No. 6 Hawaii on Tuesday afternoon at the UC Davis Beach Volleyball Courts.
Cal defeated UC Davis for the second time this year as the Bears won 3-2 in a tightly contested battle which saw five pairs go to three sets. That warmed the Bears up as they were able to take down No. 6 Hawaii by a 4-1 score line to claim their first ranked win of the year.
CAL 3, UC DAVIS 2
This match was tougher for the Bears than the team's meeting on the opening weekend of the year as the Bears also had to fight the wind all day. There were constant gusts that often caused the ball to drop suddenly or fly long and spin awkwardly in the air.
"The conditions were very windy; at times you were just trying to get the ball over any way you could," interim head coach Derek Olson said. "You forget about strategy or technique or skills and just try to get it over. We don't see much wind at our courts in Berkeley. Today, it was gusting over 20 miles per hour; that's really tough conditions."
Jordan Polo and Ainsley Radell got the Bears started strongly. They won the first set, 21-15, then started the second set on an 11-3 run. Cal never looked back as they claiming the second set by an identical 21-15 score. Brooke Buchner and Kate Bierly were paired together for the first time and duo was able to push Cal's lead to 2-0. They won 21-9, 21-17 on court four.
"I think we benefited from playing Davis before Hawaii," Olson said. "Davis is used to those conditions, this is their home court. It would be like a football team where the football field was slanted and they got to run downhill the entire game. But I'm proud of our team and the way they worked and responded. They weren't shook by the conditions and they stayed with it and we got huge contributions from our entire lineup to survive against Davis."
Grace Paulson closed out the first set on court five with a spike as she was playing in her first career match alongside another Cal debutant, graduate transfer senior Katie Smoot. UC Davis took the second set, but Paulson and Smoot started the third set with three straight points and never looked back, winning the third set 15-9 to claim the match.
"Katie and Grace have had the best weeks of practice leading up to today," Olson said. "We felt pretty confident that they would play well today. Grace hasn't played before today, not even in an exhibition, but subbed in and played well. The dual was on the line, we needed contributions and they were able to pull it out."
Court three was a battle; with the score tied at 20 in the first set, Micheletti led a close ball fall on the outside of the tape to take the lead. The senior then claimed the first set with a hard spike down the middle to end it, 22-20. The Aggies came back to win the second set and came back from a 14-12 deficit in the third set to win 18-16. UC Davis also won in straight sets on court one.
CAL 4, HAWAII 1
Cal entered the matchup looking for a little revenge against Hawaii. Two years ago, the Bears had an opportunity to beat Hawaii in back-to-back matches, with multiple match points, but the Bears weren't able to pull it off. Cal has a number of players who played in that dual and they came out wanting to showcase that things would be different in 2021.
"A lot of our girls that played today were there when we played Hawaii two years ago," Olson said. "In that moment two years ago, it felt like it slipped out of our hands. I'm sure they were thinking about that heading into today and really wanted to get a victory over Hawaii. They're always a tough program and it's huge for our program to get a win over them and it shows the direction that we're headed in."
Cal claimed the program's first-ever win over Hawaii in the team's fourth matchup against each other. It was also Cal's fifth ever win over a top-10 program and first of this season.
Cal mixed up their top two pairs and it paid dividends as the Bears won on both the top two courts. Mirkovic and Schafer played in the second pair for the first time this year and they were able to come away with a victory over the Rainbow Wahine. Schafer clinched the dual with an ace as the two seniors were able to take advantage of their experience.
Court one saw the Bears pushed to three sets, but Polo and Radell stepped up in the third. Polo had an ace to grow the lead to 8-4, followed by an excellent floating shot by Radell which found the corner of the sand. Later on, Radell stuffed Hawaii at the net to make it 13-6 and then a couple points later floated the ball over the block and found sand to clinch the fourth pair win of the afternoon.
The duo of the freshman Buchner and sophomore Bierly was not involved in the 2019 game, but they showcased why they are a big part of Cal's future. Despite only having a couple of practices together, they showed skill and composure that belies their age. They won the first set 21-19, then jumped out to a 14-7 lead on court 4 at the technical timeout as they rolled to a 21-13 advantage to give Cal a 2-0 lead.
Inman and Micheletti bounced back in the second match of the doubleheader to claim a victory after a difficult first match vs. Davis. The duo controlled action and was able to claim the win, Inman blasted a swerving ace that fell to the sand to secure the final point, winning the pair and clinching the dual in favor of the Bears.
The Bears will be back in action this weekend as they compete in the Pac-12 South Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. All of the matches will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. The Bears will play UCLA and Washington on Saturday, followed by matchups vs. Oregon and Utah on Sunday.
Cal 3, UC Davis 2
#1 – Paloma Bowman/Colleen McGuire (UCD) def. Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer (CAL) – 21-16, 22-20
#2 – Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo (CAL) def. Heather Reed/Megan Luly (UCD)– 21-15, 21-15
#3 – Rose Holscher/Madelin Smith (UCD) def. Alexia Inman/Maddie Micheletti (CAL) – 20-22, 21-19, 18-16
#4 – Kate Bierly/Brooke Buchner (CAL) def. Ashlee Goycoochea/June Seslar (UCD) – 21-9, 21-17
#5 – Katie Smoot/Grace Paulson (CAL) def. Savanah Schroeder/Samantha Lazenby (UCD) – 23-21, 18-21, 15-8
Order of Finish – 2, 4, 1, 5, 3
#11 Cal 4, #6 Hawaii 1
#1 – Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo (CAL) def. Harlee Kekauoha/Brooke Van Sickle (UH) – 21-11, 23-25, 15-11
#2 – Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer (CAL) def. Amber Igiede/Pani Napoleon (UH) – 21-18, 22-20
#3 – Alexia Inman/Maddie Micheletti (CAL) def. Ilihia Huddleston/Jaime Santer (UH) – 21-16, 21-14
#4 – Kate Bierly/Brooke Buchner (CAL) def. Kaylee Glagau/Anna Maidment (UH) – 21-19, 21-13
#5 – Kylin Loker/Riley Wagoner (UH) def. Katie Smoot/Grace Paulson (CAL) – 21-17, 21-12
Order of Finish – 4, 2, 5, 3, 1