BERKELEY – The Cal volleyball team has scrimmaged countless times since training camp opened on Aug. 9. But Saturday marked the first time the Bears did so with other people watching.
Cal held its annual Blue & Gold Scrimmage at Haas Pavilion on Saturday, making its first public appearance of the 2014 season. Fans were re-acquainted with some familiar faces while also getting to know the Bears’ freshmen class that is ranked No. 9 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com.
Junior middle blocker Lara Vukasovic led Cal with 13 kills and hit for a .455 percentage while freshman outside hitter Christine Alftin added 12 kills. Junior middle blocker Lillian Schonewise had 10 kills and hit .400.
“It’s more of a mental thing than anything,” Schonewise said. “We do the same drills, the same scrimmages. The only thing different is looking up and seeing an audience. It’s good to get used to playing in front of a crowd.”
Saturday marked the public debut of Cal’s eight freshmen, including outside hitter Ashten Smith-Gooden, who was ranked as the No. 5 Senior Ace by PrepVolleyball.com. Alftin was honored as the No. 51 recruit.
Along with Vukasovic and Schonewise, the Bears feature senior opposite hitter Christina Higgins, a Second Team All-American last season. Sophomore libero Maddy Kerr, a 2013 Pac-12 All-Freshman pick, is also back.
“I really liked what I saw,” said Cal coach Rich Feller, entering his 16th season at the helm in Berkeley. “I think it was good for us to get it under our belts. It showed us some things. This was good for us to see people in action out there.”
Saturday’s scrimmage marked the unofficial end of training camp. With classes beginning next week, the Bears will now shift into regular season practice mode as they prepare for Friday’s season-opener against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at the Air Force Tournament.
“We’re so excited,” Schonewise said. “We’ve been working hard throughout double-days. We’re ready to get on the court in jerseys and play someone different on the other side of the net.”