As sophomore sand volleyball player Kamila Tan stares across the net during this Friday’s match, she will likely meet the eyes of a girl who’s all too familiar.
It will be the same girl Tan has spent hour after hour with before, exchanging sets and kills, smiles and laughs.
Jace Pardon of Florida State, UCLA’s Friday opponent, will be on the other side of the net from Tan – something neither of the girls are accustomed to. They’re used to standing at each other’s side, as partners of the same sand volleyball duo.
Not too long ago, the two were teammates and doubles partners for the USA Volleyball Beach U19 team. Now, they find themselves as each other’s competition.
In the No. 1 doubles matchup, Tan and freshman Jessyka Ngauamo will face Pardon and her other half – a crucial point hanging in the balance for the Bruins.
“It’s going to be fun, but it’s going to take a lot to win. I know I’m in for a really good competition, so I’m excited,” Tan said. “I know I’m going in it to win it.”
The friendship between the two former doubles partners blossomed in part because of their chemistry off the court. Tan said Pardon had a “very interesting personality,” one that displayed fun and laughter.
Through the tournaments the duo played with the national team, Tan said Pardon became one of her good friends.
As excited as Tan is to face Pardon, she hasn’t brought up their impending matchup with Pardon yet, though the two have exchanged a few texts over the week.
“We haven’t really explicitly mentioned the match,” Tan said, laughing lightly. “I’ve just been, ‘Hey, how’s it going? How’s life?’ Keeping in touch with her, because ultimately, I want to keep up that friendship.”
It’s early in the season, but ranked at No. 6, UCLA (3-0) has already matched its win total from last season in three games.
“I have high hopes for this team and the rest of our squad. I think they’re all starting to … learn game plans in the wind and how to execute as well, which is a whole (other) level,” said coach Stein Metzger.
Playing No. 4 Florida State, UCLA will now look to surpass last season’s success.
“We’re working on just keeping things simple,” said freshman Skylar Dykstra. “It’s what Stein always tells us to do, ’cause in the long run, simple will always end up winning.”