It was an exciting dual between the California Golden Bears and rival Stanford from The Farm, in Stanford's brand new Beach Volleyball facility. With random music blaring in the background, the Bears and the Cardinal split the first two matches (Stanford won in Court 4 but the Bears answered with the win in Court 5) in the first flight.
In the second flight, all three matches went to the deciding 3rd set. After Stanford won in court 3 to go up 2-1 on the dual, Cal No.1 duo of Sarah Cole and Mia Merino fought back small deficits to claim a big match win at 15-13.
Cole-Merino win the third set 15-13 and takes the match in three sets! Dual now tied 2-2 with No. 2 match in third set. #GoBears— Cal Beach Volleyball (@CalBeachVball) April 6, 2016
Everything comes down to Court 2 where Cal duo of Kory Lamet and Bryce Bark won the first set but lost the second set. Fighting off 4 or 5 Stanford match points, the Bears won 18-16.
And the Bears win it!!! Bark-Lamet take the third set 18-16 to win the No. 3 match. Cal wins the dual 3-2! #GoBears— Cal Beach Volleyball (@CalBeachVball) April 6, 2016
Here is the deciding point:
Just like like, Palo Alto becomes a Bear Territory!
Bears are now 10-7 on the season and will host Oregon on Friday at 9 AM (wow, that's early!).
Cal Beach Volleyball (9-7) at Stanford (4-4)
When: 4:30 PM PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
In the 3rd year of program's existence, we finally have some beach volleyball action of the Golden Bears on the Pac-12 Networks (*yes, Bears were on the Pac-12 Networks earlier this year when they played and lost to USC). This is the first year for Beach Volleyball (rebranded from being called "Sand Volleyball" initially) to be a NCAA and Pac-12 sanctioned sport - AKA there will be both a Pac-12 Championships (host by USC from April 28-May 1st) and NCAA Championships (May 6-8 from Gulf Shores, Alabama) for the first time in 2016.
Beach volleyball, like tennis, is decided by the results of several matches - 5 to be exact. Each match is a best of 3 sets - the first two sets are up to 21 points (or more as one has to win by 2) and the tie-breaking third set is first to 15 points.
Golden Bears are a vastly improving program (like most beach volleyball programs since they are all so new), achieving the first rankings in program history this year. Bears were ranked 16th in the country before the results of last weekend (a weekend split down at Monterey, Bears got edged by San Jose State but beat Sacramento State). So far in 2016, the Golden Bears have beaten No.14 Loyola Marymount, No.13 USF, No.18 Pacific, and Loyola Marymount again when their ranking has fallen to No.20. Perhaps even more impressively, Bears suffered close 3-2 loss to No.9 Arizona, No.15 Grand Canyon (that's a school?), and No.20 Santa Clara.
After basically using indoor Cal Volleyball players for the first season, the program now consists of dedicated players (Sabrina Blackwell is the only player doing a Cal Volleyball and Cal Beach Volleyball double duty in this school year).
A couple of familiar faces for Cal fans of other sports may be Kory Lamet - who is playing Beach Volleyball after completing her Cal Women's Soccer career last year (when she also moonlight in the Cal club volleyball team), and Sarah Cole - a former Cal Volleyball player (who started as a defensive specialist but also played some outside hitter) who is now a fulltime Beach Volleyball player. Coincidentally, these two seniors are the two captains of the young squad.
Cal Volleyball fans will also find a familiar face on the sideline in head coach Meagan Schmitt - former Cal Volleyball defensive specialist standout.
The current Cal line up consists of:
No. 1: Mia Merino-Karina Langli*
No. 2: Bryce Bark-Kory Lamet
No. 3: Grace Campbell-Olivia Rodberg
No. 4: Katie Regalia-Rachel Wilson
No. 5: Kaity Uythoven-Teya Neff
*Sarah Cole started the year paired with Mia Merino as the Cal top pair but wasn't in the starting lineup this past weekend. She was out with an injury, and I am not sure if she is ready to return for the Big Beach Spike**.
**I may be the only person to call this that...we shall see if this obvious name is going to catch on.
Somehow, Stanford have not played that many matches on the year as the Golden Bears. They are also not ranked - if ranking for this very new sports does mean anything.