Aggies maintain high spirits entering second season

Aggies maintain high spirits entering second season

Photo Credits: Kazim Jafri / Aggie. The UC Davis Beach Volleyball Team in action against San Jose State on Saturday, Mar. 7 at the UC Davis Beach Volleyball Courts.

UC Davis beach volleyball takes 3-2 win in rematch with San Jose State

The UC Davis beach volleyball team took time in its first season to establish itself at the NCAA level, and now its players appear to be coming together and finding their own niche in the UC Davis athletics community.

The Aggies defeated the San Jose State Spartans by a score of 3-2 on Saturday in their first home game of the season, evening out their record at 3-3. 

The match began with the Spartans taking a 1-0 lead after a hard-fought three set battle at the five spot, but was followed by aggressive performances from UC Davis in the next three subsequent matches.

The Aggies took the next two matches after falling behind and were able to clinch the victory behind the doubles performance of second-year Jane Seslar and third-year Paloma Bowman. This was the second-straight win for the pair as they remained in the top spot of the lineup and defeated the Spartans 21-17, 22-20.

Considering that this is only the program’s second season, the team is treating last year as a learning experience and maintaining high spirits moving forward. 

“I think we’re feeling pretty good and getting better as we’re playing,” said Head Coach Ali McColloch. “The second season is actually harder than the first season because now the girls have expectations for themselves.” 

McColloch believes the Aggies’ first season was different in that there was no advantage of having a full off-season together beforehand, whereas this second season has allowed for additional preparation and the ability to implement new tactics.

She describes the previous season as one that was rushed and full of “trial and error,” while the start of the 2020 campaign was preceded by ample time for preparation. 

This season also began with the addition of several new players, including four freshman and a graduate student. First-years Megan Luly and Bailey Herdman joined the team with impressive backgrounds in volleyball and both delivered high-energy performances in Saturday’s match. 

Following the win, McColloch explained that while the dynamic of the team remains similar to their first season, the freshmen “came in and they glued really well with the team.” She also highlighted the “great culture” that everyone maintains, adding that the team “embraces everyone that comes in.” 

The Aggies’ victory over the Spartans follows a double header on Feb. 29, in which UC Davis rebounded from a 5-0 loss to the UC Berkeley Golden Bears with a 3-2 win over Utah — both of which are Pac-12 conference opponents. 

Although the loss to UC Berkeley was a difficult one, McColloch claimed that the team “doesn’t dwell on the losses but instead on the process,” explaining that for this season, the Aggies have adjusted their training and “ironed that out much better.” 

Overall, this upcoming season is now the time for UC Davis to work on execution and performance as the team moves forward from a level of uncertainty to a more established environment. 

Following the match, Bowman elaborated more on this, describing the team’s first season as “100% learning” while referring to this season as “a balance between learning and being competitive, with more of an intent to execute.” 

Sophomore Rose Holscher followed up these comments by saying the team is, “working together to try new things, but also figuring out when to do that and when not to do that.”

Outside of dedicating time to improving their skills, the players this season have found an increased ability to play their own specific styles and express themselves throughout each match. Bowman described last season as “robotic,” compared to the freedom that this second season has brought on. 

Both Holscher and Bowman were adamant about their abilities to maintain their own styles of play moving forward. They explained that they are “not phased,” and will not allow other teams to influence the way they play.

The team’s confidence was prominent in Saturday’s match, as everyone appeared to remain positive even when falling behind in a set or throughout the bouts of rain. 

As far as whether they have set any expectations for this season, Holscher and Bowman both explained that they’ll rely on attending practice and improving their abilities while “soaking in” the knowledge that their coaches have to offer. 

The pair also explained how “ecstatic” they are to be part of a program that is new to both UC Davis and the NCAA in general, describing it as something that has “changed so many lives for the better,” while crediting the coaches as being beyond anything they could imagine. 

Going forward, Bowman and Holsher highlighted the importance of the team maintaining the “culture” that McColloch described, while also having a good amount of fun while doing so. The environment surrounding this team is focused and dedicated, but also remains light-hearted from one match to the next. 

After a double header at home on Wednesday, the Aggies will be playing their final home match of the season against the University of San Francisco on Saturday. The team will then head to San Jose for a triple header on March 21 against Boise State, their final match with San Jose and Sacramento State. 

Written by: Rain Yekikian — sports@theaggie.org