Beach volleyball wins six of eight heading into conference championships
Though it may appear that the women’s beach volleyball team faced a unique challenge playing through the pandemonium of Picnic Day weekend, as one of the newest additions to the Aggie Athletics family, the women’s beach volleyball made its mark on the UC Davis sports season with a 3-2 victory at its first official home opener. The team’s first two games in early March were originally scheduled to be played at Sacramento State’s facilities, but extenuating circumstances forced the games to be moved to UC Davis.
Following the announcement of two new women’s division I sports teams — beach volleyball and equestrian — in April of 2018, UC Davis began construction for the new volleyball team’s home courts late last year. The courts’ inaugural practice was held this past February, less than a month before the team’s first home match. The courts themselves sit right off of Russell Boulevard on Howard Field, directly in front of the North Entry Parking Structure. They feature “amphitheater-style seating” for spectators.
“I thought the courts looked amazing and I think all of my teammates did too,” said freshman Nicole Andrade. “We were all really impressed with how it looked. I truly believe we have some of the best courts after traveling a lot this season.”
Fellow freshman teammate Rose Holscher also commented on the new court and how she thought it added to the first game’s experience.
“I thought our first ever home beach volleyball game was an amazing experience for our program and the school,” said Holscher. “It was awesome to have such nice weather and get to use our new courts which looked very professional. I think the atmosphere was inviting and welcoming for all our fans.”
Friday featured a morning to afternoon double-header against the University of Oregon, played in sunny but windy conditions. In the first contest, the duo consisting of senior Heather Reed and sophomore Savanah Schroeder won the third and deciding match for the Aggies, clutching their last two sets after losing the first and solidifying UC Davis’ first official home win by a score of 3-2.
After the high winds caused an injury during the second game, the match had to be suspended. Essentially, without an official bench or area to rest around the courts, teams would huddle under pop-up umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun during timeouts. In a sudden sequence of events, the winds rapidly picked up, tore an umbrella out of the ground during a timeout and hurdled it directly toward a live match. A UC Davis player was struck by the umbrella and taken to the hospital. The player was later said to be in good condition.
Despite the scare, the team was able to stay upbeat when the day was over, content with its well-earned first win. The Aggies had to claw their way back from an 0-2 deficit in the first match, winning the last three matches to secure the victory. The second game ended in a 2-2 tie after the suspension, but not before the pairs Andrade and sophomore Ally Reyes along with Reed and Schroeder won their respective matches, going undefeated for the day.
The Aggies are firing on all cylinders leading into the playoffs, winning their Saturday match against Pacific 3-2, and their Wednesday matches against Sierra College and Gavilan College. Having only lost once in April, things are coming together at the right time for UC Davis.
“After our big win against Oregon on Friday, we were all pretty thrilled and we took that energy and skill into our game on Saturday and our games on Wednesday,” Andrade said. “All of us continue to grow day by day as we work to improve ourselves and our team. All the games that occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Wednesday are preparing us for our championships next weekend and, in my opinion, we are ready to take that on.”
Following the team’s final match of the week on Wednesday, April 17, the Aggies now enjoy a nine-day break before traveling to Zuma Beach in Malibu, Calif. for the Big West Conference Championship. The championship games will take place on April 26 through 27 and will be a double-eliminated style play.
“Our coach has made a point to create a culture that is focused on growth so all of us went out on Friday with that intention and it paid off,” said Andrade. “I’m very proud of my teammates and how we have all performed in our past few games and [… I’m] very grateful to have such amazing coaches to help guide us and can’t wait to kick butt at the championships.”
Written by: AJ Seymour— firstname.lastname@example.org