No. 9 Cal Comes Back To Defeat Saint Mary’s
MORAGA – No. 9 California beach volleyball came back to secure their ninth win of the season on Tuesday afternoon as they won 3-2 over Saint Mary's (California).
"Any win, no matter how we can get it is a good result," interim head coach Derek Olson said. "Saint Mary's is a good, experienced team. We came in knowing that we were going to be challenged, I thought we responded pretty well."
The freshman combination of Brooke Buchner and Ava Mann won for the third consecutive match. They were the only Cal pair to win both matches over the weekend vs. No. 5 Cal Poly and No. 12 Stanford. The continued that forward momentum with a three-set win on the fifth pair to give Cal the lead after the first flight of matches. The Bears won the first set 21-17, but lost the second set 15-21 to bring about a decisive third set. Mann was able to finish off the match by dropping a shot over the block and following with an ace to give Cal the early lead.
However, the lead didn't last long as the Bears dropped matches on both the third and fourth courts during the second flight to fall behind 2-1 in the dual.
The Bears got back into the match on court two as the third flight started. Ainsley Radell and Jordan Polo collected the win with a straight set 21-12, 21-14 win. The match was tied at seven in the second set, when the Bears went on a 6-1 run that helped them take a lead they wouldn't surrender.
"The good thing about Ainsley and Jordan is they're never that bad," Olson commented. "They don't have the dips that a lot of teams go through, you know what you're going to get with them. Right now, they're in a good rhythm offensively and today they kept chipping away defensively until the other team just couldn't keep up."
The Bears win on two, meant the match came down to the top court in order to decide a winner. The Cal duo of Mima Mirkovic and Caroline Schafer lost a tightly contested first set, 17-21. However, they bounced back taking a 12-9 lead in the second and held on from there, winning 21-17
In the third set, the Bears started fast and never looked back as they won 15-4. Mirkovic put down an uncontested kill at the net to get the Bears to 13. Schafer followed with a kill and then the match ended with a ferocious swing off the right hand of Schafer as she drilled the ball into the defender, who was left helpless. That sealed the comeback win for the Bears and left a positive feeling for the Bears after dropping two matches to No. 5 Cal Poly and No. 12 Stanford by 3-2 margins over the weekend.
"In some ways, I was happy we got to turn around quickly and put Saturday behind us," Olson said. "I wasn't sure going into the match what to expect, because we didn't have much practice time since our last match. However, I thought they responded well and the top two pairs came through in a big way to seal it."
The Bears will be back in action this weekend as they head to Phoenix, Arizona for the Pac-12 North Invitational. The Invitational was originally scheduled to be at Stanford, but will now be hosted by Arizona State at Grand Canyon University. The Bears play USC (9 a.m.) and Arizona State (2 p.m.) on Saturday and take on Arizona (10:15 a.m.) and Stanford (3:15 p.m.) on Sunday.
CAL 3, SAINT MARY'S 2
#1 – Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer (CAL) def. Hawley Harrer/Alexsa "Crash" Parker (SMC)– 17-21, 21-17, 15-4
#2 – Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo (CAL) def. Chandler Cowell/Elena Baka (SMC) – 21-12, 21-14
#3 – Jasmin Suarez/Sienna Young (SMC) def. Alexia Inman/Grace Paulson (CAL) – 20-22, 21-18, 15-11
#4 – Morgan Kendrick/Jennifer "Boo" Laird (SMC) def. Kate Bierly/Maya Gessner (CAL) – 21-12, 21-11
#5 – Brooke Buchner/Ava Mann (CAL) def. Makenna Joyce/Selbie Christensen (SMC) – 21-17, 14-21, 15-8
Order of Finish – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1