A Cal Volleyball Blog By Maddy Kerr
Maddy Kerr takes fans inside the Cal Volleyball team all season long with "Kerr's Korner," a blog written by the Bears' sophomore libero.
Nov. 26, 2014
Hi Cal Fans!
As we head into our last two matches of the season, I would first like to thank all the fans for your continued support throughout the season. I would also like to thank all of you who read this blog. It really means a lot! All of the support from our fans really means a lot, especially during a disappointing season like the one we’ve had. It could definitely be challenging to continue to come to practice and work as hard as we do day in and day out knowing we aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament. But all the support from you guys makes every day worthwhile and fulfilling.
We are currently in Pullman, Washington, getting ready to play Washington State. Like us, they have only won one conference game, so they have kind of had a season similar to ours. We want to end the season on a positive note, and at this point, even though our game against Washington State means nothing to anybody else in the conference, it means a lot to us. After having a season like the one we’ve had, any positive vibes as we finish up are very important as we look toward the future.
So, we play Washington State tonight and fly back to Berkeley on Thanksgiving before playing Stanford on Friday. Being college athletes in a fall season, we understand that we will never be able to go home for Thanksgiving. But most of us have very supportive families who are bringing Thanksgiving to the Bay Area. I will be spending it at a family friend’s house with my mom and my younger brother, as my dad is traveling for work and my brother is traveling with his University of San Diego basketball team. It has been a long time since we’ve all had Thanksgiving together, but we don’t like each other that much anyway. Just kidding. I think my mom still gets sad about it because she’s a mom and that’s what they do.
On Friday, we play Stanford, and up until this point they are undefeated and No. 1 in the country. It will obviously be a challenge, but it is going to be a very fun time, playing our last game of the season against a great team at Haas Pavilion. There is never a bad time for an upset, but Friday might be the very best of the entire year. We look forward to it.
Nov. 13, 2014
This week, we play USC and UCLA. The last time we played these two teams, we played two hard-fought, four-set matches. Although we lost, as we reviewed those games this week, we realized that statistically, we were extremely close. We are fully capable of winning, as we are against any Pac-12 team. So, again, we are excited to play!
In other news, this week we signed three girls to our 2019 class! Savannah Rennie will join us in the spring, and Belen Castillo and Sarah Shafiq will be coming for the 2015 season. We are very excited to welcome these top prospects. They are sure to help our team next year. It is going to be a lot of fun. Honestly, it makes me feel old! Time is flying by. I remember my signing day like it was yesterday. It’s crazy!
I am writing this post from my hotel room in Los Angeles. A few hours ago, I learned that my brother, Nick, who plays basketball for the University of San Diego, is staying in our hotel with his team, as they are playing in a tournament here this weekend. Super weird. Just shows how much my family communicates. It was a great surprise, and we just hung out and watched the Warriors’ game. I hadn’t seen him in awhile, so it was a lot of fun catching up. Although his first reaction at 2 years old when he met my newborn self was to slap me across the face, we have grown close over the years. I think he likes me now, although he is still probably a tad bit jealous that he doesn’t consume all of my mother’s attention. What are ya gonna do?
Wish us luck this weekend! Go Bears!
Nov. 5, 2014
I would like to take this time to thank you all for staying loyal to Cal Volleyball despite the rough and uncharacteristic season we are having. We really value and appreciate all the support we have from the Cal community, and we are doing our best to continue to improve and perform at the highest level possible. Last weekend, we lost two very close matches to Oregon and Oregon State. Despite the loss, we actually played two solid matches, and again proved that we can compete with such high level teams. The tough thing about volleyball at this level is that the difference between a good team and a great team can really come down to two points - we are last in the Pac-12, but think of how many sets and matches we have lost by only a couple of points. It is really amazing how close the competition is, especially in our conference. Everybody else is beating each other up all the time, and winning does not come easily, as we have clearly learned. Despite our losses, we are still taking this season one game at a time, and continuing to work hard in practice each day to try to overcome that small “two point” difference that is separating us from the other teams.
Despite losing to the Oregon schools, the trip was a lot of fun. In Eugene, we stayed at this great hotel that is right on this river, which is beautiful. But more important, it is across the street from a mall! Similarly, a great thing about the state of Oregon is that there is no sales tax! Those two things, combined with 15 girls (not to mention Carson and Jenn), made for a pretty great way to spend our down time. On road trips, when we are not practicing, playing or studying, we actually have quite a bit of free time. Most often, we just hang out at the hotel and sleep, so it was a nice change of pace getting to have a little fun during our down time.
On road trips, we always learn a little bit more about each other. For example, on this trip, we witnessed Rich, who is usually a health nut, eat two ice cream sundaes in two days! It was quite the phenomenon. We are convinced it was because his beautiful, and also very healthy wife, Stacey, was not there, so he did not need to impress her. Now we finally have some dirt on Rich that we can use as ammunition when he is disappointed with our food choices (which is often). Actually, let’s be honest. We know our newfound knowledge won’t actually get us anywhere. Authority figures always win. Remember that, kids.
This weekend, we play Arizona State and Arizona. They are two more opportunities for us to prove that we have gotten better and can compete in this conference. Furthermore, they are two more opportunities for us to compete and play the sport that we have loved for so long, as cheesy as that sounds.
Hope to see you all there!! Go Bears!
Oct. 27, 2014
The team was happy to be home last week after playing on the road for two weeks in a row. Everybody took advantage of being home in different ways. For one thing, we all got to catch up on some schoolwork because we actually got to attend all of our classes. It might sound nice to be able to get out of class all the time for road trips, but at a school as rigorous as ours, missed classes add up. In addition to catching up on school, I took advantage of the time to hang out with my family. My dad lives in Berkeley now, and my mom comes up to visit all the time and was here all week. So all week I stayed at my dad’s house and got doted on by my mother. It was fantastic. I thought I went away to college, but I guess not!
On Friday night our football team played against Oregon at Levi’s Stadium. A lot of girls from our team went to the game, but Lillian, Marlee and I are extremely unorganized and forgot to buy our student section tickets on time. So, because we had nothing to do, we went with my mom to the Golden State Warriors’ exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets. As many of you probably know, my dad is in his first year coaching the Warriors. It is a lot of fun watching him try to be assertive and in charge of 7-foot tall professional basketball players, especially because he hardly has any authority in my family. My mom dominates. Anyway, the Warriors games are a lot of fun, so my teammates and I will be attending a lot this season.
So, this week marks the beginning of the second half of Pac-12 games. We are hoping that the hard work we have been putting in will pay off, and we can prove that we can compete with the best teams in the country. We are headed to play Oregon and Oregon State, and are fully capable of taking them down. Keep believing in us, Cal fans! We will get there.
Oct. 17, 2014
Hi Cal fans!
Last week, we lost to the Arizona schools. It was a bummer, of course, but we did some good things and are still getting better every day. The Pac 12 is a very difficult conference, and being a relatively young and inexperienced team, every match is a battle. This week, we have Utah and Colorado, and are still hungry for our first Pac 12 wins this year.
Last weekend, we got back early enough Saturday morning to go to the football game! This game was a special one, because the athletic department wanted to recognize all the athletes with a 3.0 GPA or higher, so a few of us got to go on the field before the game and help form the tunnel that the football team runs through! It is such a cool experience going on the football field. It is such a big arena compared to what we are used to, not to mention Memorial Stadium is simply beautiful! After going on the field, I met up with some more of my teammates to watch the rest of the game. The best part of last weekend was that Adrienne Gehan, who played for Cal volleyball from 2010-2013, came to hang out because it was Mary’s 21st birthday! It is always fun seeing Adrienne, and we miss having her around all the time.
Saturday night, a few of us went to Mary’s dad’s restaurant in the Berkeley Marina to celebrate her birthday. It was a beautiful place, right on the water, and we all decided to dress up and be cute, considering being athletes we hardly ever have the opportunities to wear high heels and dresses and makeup and all that other really lame girly stuff. It was really nice that we were able to do something special for Mary’s 21st birthday, because usually when we’re in season, birthdays are difficult to celebrate.
We had a good week of practice, and everybody is continuing to work hard. It will pay off, sooner or later, and we are continuing to demand the best of ourselves, even though we know we have not started the Pac 12 season the way we wanted. Regardless, it is in the past, and there is nothing to do but look forward and get better.
Wish us luck this weekend! Go Bears!
Oct. 8, 2014
This road trip is a little different for a lot of us. Although we will miss almost the whole week of school because we left on Tuesday, we cannot hide from it for long — a lot of us have to take proctored midterms on the road. Tomorrow, Laura, Alyssa, Nikki and I have to take a Political Science midterm under the watchful eye of Dave Dantes, our director of operations. It is definitely hard trying to balance school and volleyball in these cases, because on these trips, we really just want to focus on volleyball and winning. Regardless, we are student-athletes, and school is thus very important, whether we like to admit it or not.
We are currently in Tucson, which is really fun for me because both of my parents went to U of A! My dad played basketball there, so it’s really fun being able to see pictures of him in the gym, looking like a skinny twelve year old and what not. A lot of my family members also live in Tucson, so I’m very excited to see them tonight. A fun fact about me is that my family used to have a house here, and we lived in Tucson in the summer… yes, you read that correctly. My parents really loved spending the summers in 117 degree, dry weather, so that’s what we did. I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with them. Still trying to figure it out. Anyway, it’s very fun coming back to a place where I kind of have roots-ish.
We are extremely ready to play tonight. Our serve and pass this morning went very well, and we really got a good feel for the beautiful arena, McKale Center. We are hungry to win, and are ready to work hard for this game. Also, we kind of owe it to Arizona in general, after that football game a few weeks ago.
Wish us luck! Go Bears!
Sept. 30, 2014
Hey Cal fans! It’s been awhile!
We’ve had three matches since my last post. First, we beat St. Mary’s last Friday at their place, and then unfortunately we lost to Stanford and Washington last week. We have learned a lot about ourselves as individuals and as a team in the last week or so, and are trying to use this information to make big strides in our play - we don’t have any time to wait! It’s Pac-12 time!
After beating St. Mary’s, we felt pretty good about the way we were playing. However, playing Stanford just demonstrates the difficulty of playing in the Pac-12. The level of play is ten times higher than anything we had seen up to that point, and it was definitely a challenge playing Stanford, to say the least. We did not play well, which was apparent to anybody who saw the match. The only upside of that match was that we competed in the second set. Although we did not play perfectly in that set, and eventually lost it 26-24, it showed us that we are capable of competing with some of the best teams in the country if we put our best foot forward. It is really important that we believe in ourselves and our ability to compete with the best teams, and we cannot let losses define our team morale - we play in the hardest conference in the country, and hardly any Pac-12 teams ever go the whole season without dropping a match. Failure in one form or another is often inevitable, and the way teams respond to that failure is the key to success. So, we came back to practice the next morning fired up and ready to improve.
Before the Washington match, we made some changes to our lineup and moved some people around to different positions. Although we only had a day and a half to practice our new lineup, it proved to be effective in our match. We played better than we have the entire season, by a long shot, and although we lost in five sets, we now have a stronger foundation to build upon for the rest of the season. Everybody has been working hard in practice, and there is increased competition for spots on the court, which is good! We all love each other at the end of the day, obviously, but it is totally healthy to have girls competing with each other and pushing those around them to be better. The other defensive specialists push me every day to be the best that I can be, and I know that if I do not rise to the challenges I face, one of them will replace me on the court. It is part of sports, and it is a total blessing when teams have that type of depth. So, after playing very well against Washington, we are back this week with a vengeance, ready to take on the Oregon schools. We are continuing to improve every day, and continue to stay focused on our goal of being the best, and winning.
Although I mostly have talked about volleyball so far, this past weekend was our first full weekend off since we started practice in August! We got to be social and do normal college kid stuff! It was crazy. I’m sure we were all rusty with our people skills when interacting with other students. I hope nobody thinks we’re too awkward or weird.
On Saturday, we went to the football game, which was awesome!!! The boys won in overtime, 59-56, and Mary and I were holding each others’ hands so hard in anticipation that I’m surprised our fingers are still attached. It was so great to see the guys win such a clutch game, and definitely inspired us for our upcoming games! Go Bears!
Sept. 19, 2014
Hi Cal Fans!
Last weekend was our first time playing at home! It was really fun playing at home in front of our crowd with the band! The atmosphere in Haas Pavilion is unbeatable. It is so much fun playing there
Friday night, we played the University of Pacific, and unfortunately lost in three sets. We were obviously not proud of the way we played. Every individual played poorly and takes responsibility for the loss. Pacific played a good match, but it was our own poor play that created the outcome. Once again, our weaknesses were exposed, and once again, we had to bounce back pretty quickly.
We played two matches on Saturday, one in the morning and one at night, against Nevada and UCSB. We won both matches in four sets and played much better. We are beginning to understand exactly what it takes to compete at the college level, and that we cannot afford to bring anything but our best against any team we play. One of the most promising aspects of our two wins last weekend was that we got a lot of production from people who haven’t been seeing the court so much, which just showed how deep we are.
This week, practice was extremely competitive. Every drill we did was a competition, with the losing team or player running sprints. I love competitive practices because they are so energetic, and frankly, just fun. Wednesday and Thursday we did competitions between the blondes and the brunettes, a common rivalry within our team. We played “Queen of the Court,” which is basically 3 vs. 3, hitting out of the back row, with a new team filling in after the ball travels over the net. It can get a little hectic, and we are very into it.
Wednesday, the brunettes cheated to win. We believe they paid off Jenn, our scorekeeper. We blondes were, of course, upset when we found out after practice. However, we knew we could not argue with the “refs,” about it. So Thursday, we came in with a new, fierce attitude — we were going to destroy the brunettes. And we did. And we did not pay Jenn to swing the results in our favor. Moral of the story: brunettes are cheaters. Remember that.
Tonight, we play St. Mary’s, which is nice because we just get to drive there instead of flying and staying in a hotel. We are very excited to play them. They are a very good team, but if we do what we know we are capable of doing, we will be successful. Wish us luck!
September 12, 2014
Anyway, after we get to the airport and go through security, since we are relatively normal 18-22 year old girls, we go to Starbucks, or “Starbs” as we cool people call it. We order all sorts of girly coffee drinks. We have this system down to a T.
Traveling to Las Cruces, New Mexico was pretty uneventful. We flew to El Paso, Texas and then took a bus to Las Cruces. The bus ride made us feel very lucky to live in Northern California, because judging by my estimates, the temperature of that bus was upwards of 200 degrees. I am a really good guesser, so I’m probably right. Anyway, we had a serve and pass after we got settled in, to get used to the facilities and what not, and then had dinner and went to sleep. We were all pretty tired after our long day of traveling, and we had to wake up around 6 the next morning, so it felt really good getting to bed early.
On Friday, we lost in five sets to Radford. We did not play well, and they exposed all of our weaknesses, and showed us each individually and as a team a lot of things we need to work on. Although we hate losing, I think we have to use that loss as a learning experience, and we have been. That afternoon, we rebounded to beat North Dakota State in three straight sets, and the next day, beat New Mexico State in five sets.
We have very high expectations for this team, and really need to step up our game, especially since we are in the Pac-12, arguably the best women’s volleyball conference in the country. We are getting better by the day, but are nowhere near reaching our full potential yet, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as we want to continue to improve as the season goes on. We are still developing our own unique style of play. We just have to keep working and be patient!
We did not fly home until Sunday morning, and we happened to be on the same flight as the San Jose State football team. After first expressing our disappointment that we were in the C boarding group because their team took up the A and B groups, and that we were sure to be stuck in middle seats between the big (probably smelly) boys, we actually befriended a few of them. They were really nice guys, and being college athletes, there is always a way to find a common ground.
Lately, our team has been really into riddles. It’s completely annoying and frustrating, and I am tempted to quit out of irritation every single time but don’t because that would be embarrassing. Anyway, a few of us started trading riddles with a few of the football guys, and we bonded, probably due to our shared competitive nature. Regardless, it made the time pass quickly. Always fun to make new friends, especially when you’ve been forcibly confined to the same 19 girls for weeks! Just kidding, I kind of like these girls…
We are extremely excited to be playing at home this weekend for the first time! We play University of the Pacific, Nevada, and UCSB, and all are very good teams. We will definitely have to bring our A game for these ones! The vibes in Haas Pavilion will be rockin’ as usual, so we hope everybody can make it out to support! Go Bears!
September 4, 2014
Hi Cal fans!
Last weekend we won our first three matches against SIU Edwardsville, Winthrop, and the United States Air Force Academy. It was really exciting to play in legitimate matches after practicing in two-a-days for three weeks prior. We finally got to see how we compared to other teams. We are proud of winning all three matches, but we definitely have a lot of work to do, and we are continuing to work hard in practice to get better, individually and as a team.
While in Colorado Springs, we had a lot of fun on our first trip together, hanging out and getting to know each other better. Traveling really brings us together. Rich always likes us to have fun experiences outside of volleyball, so on Saturday we went to the Garden of the Gods, which is a National Natural Landmark of beautiful red rock formations. It was a really nice day, so it was great to be outside for a bit. After this, we went back to our hotel to watch the Cal football game! We only got to watch the first half before we left for our own game, but it was so exciting to see them playing so well. We were so proud of the guys and can’t wait to watch them play against Colorado in Berkeley, when the whole team will attend the game on September 27!
After getting home late Sunday night, we had Monday off of school and practice, which allowed us to get some much needed sleep and catch up with some things that college kids need to do. I went grocery shopping, did laundry, and cleaned my apartment. Really exciting stuff! Tuesday morning, we were right back to practice and weights. We started practice with a video session, to pinpoint our weaknesses from the weekend and identify changes we need to make to get better. You really can’t hide on video! Every detail is exposed, and it just reminds us of how important the smallest things are. I watch an insane amount of video, because I really feel like I get a lot out of watching the plays I make in matches, both good and bad. I think the coaches might think I’m a little crazy for watching so much. Regardless, I think we all find video sessions helpful in improving our game.
In practice Tuesday and Wednesday, we really focused on improving our defense, which was of course fun for me, being a libero. We are not the largest team in our conference, so establishing disciplined defense and blocking will be a really important part of our success this year.
This weekend, we play Radford, North Dakota State, and New Mexico State in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We don’t know much about any of these teams, so our plan is to just play our game and learn as we go. It should be fun stuff.
Wish us luck! Go Bears!
August 28, 2014
Cal Volleyball is back in action! We finally made it through two-a-days on Tuesday, after two and a half long weeks. For those of you who do not know, two-a-days include two three-hour practices - one in the morning and one in the afternoon - three team meals, and hanging out at Haas Pavilion all day because sore legs prevent us from walking home and back in between practices. Essentially, we spend A LOT of time together, so it’s a good thing our team gets along so well.
In all sincerity, two-a-days helped us to grow and develop as a team so much in a relatively short amount of time. This year, we have eight freshmen - they almost make up half of our team of 19. But we have integrated them into our team culture very quickly. They are all playing very well in practice, and many of them will get a lot of playing time and be really impactful contributors to our success this season. It’s awesome having a lot of freshmen because you can see them improve and adjust to the college level of volleyball right before your eyes. Having 19 players this year increases our depth tremendously, which is so important at this level, where games are often determined by specific match-ups, not to mention the unfortunate inevitability of players getting injured. This depth also ensures that every day in practice, we are pushing each other individually. There is depth at every position, so starters know that they have to perform well to keep their spot because there is someone else right behind them. So far, it has really helped to increase the competitive nature of practice.
We are very excited for the season to begin, with our first match on Friday. We are going to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where we will face SIU-Edwardsville, Winthrop, and Air Force this weekend. We are extremely prepared for our first round of competition and are looking to have some fun as well. On a side note, because we left Thursday morning to go on this trip, we are missing the first two days of school. As you can imagine, everybody on the team is absolutely heartbroken and devastated to have to skip class in favor of playing volleyball. Just the price we have to pay, I guess.
Wish us luck, and Go Bears!