Aug. 27, 2011
BERKELEY - The No. 3 California volleyball team ended its season-opening weekend in the same manner in which it was begun - with a sweep. On Saturday night, the Golden Bears (3-0) made quick work of a feisty FIU team (2-1) in three sets (25-23, 25-16, 25-15) to win the 2011 Cal Molten Classic as the only team to go undefeated.
"With three good wins, it was a great weekend for us to start the season," Cal head coach Rich Feller said. "We've got to tighten up our serve and receive a little and do some things on defense that will make us better. We're looking forward to getting back into the gym to practice on Monday."
Junior Correy Johnson paced the Bears with 12 kills (22att, 1e, .500). Adrienne Gehan and Shannon Hawari added 10 kills apiece with Hawari hitting a team-high .533. Junior Robin Rostratter registered 14 digs while Tarah Murrey was right behind her with eight of her own in addition to six kills.
Captaining the offense was junior setter Elly Barrett, who had 24 assists, seven digs and three block assists.
"I thought our offense was pretty good this weekend, particularly with this being Elly's first time out as the setter," Feller said. "She did a great job of setting things up and running things to different people."
FIU challenged the Bears right out of the gate for Cal trailed in the first set one of the season. Not to be outdone, the Bears blockers barred the Panther offensive with six team blocks and 12 collective block assists. In addition to the blockers working overtime, Correy Johnson registered seven kills in set one alone.
"They put up a pretty sizable block, and it makes you hit shots around them and off them," Feller said of FIU. "Their defense was really good. I was very impressed with the way they came up with so many digs, especially on our big hits. They kept coming back at us and bringing the ball back at us. We had to work pretty hard on the second and third time in a lot of rallies.
Over the course of the weekend, the Bears had 12 different student-athletes seeing time on the court. Freshmen Marlee Davis, Christina Higgins, Lindsey Parrott, Lillian Schonewise played in their first matches of their Cal careers.
"That was one the things I really liked about this weekend," Feller said of the rotation. "We were able to mix up our line-ups a little bit and get some different people in so we could really see what kind of weapons we have."
Set One - Cal 25, FIU 23
Before anyone could blink, the Panthers jumped out to a 6-4 lead, but a Bear block party halted that. Thanks to an attack error by Una Trkulja, Cal pulled ahead, 10-9, for the first time since the first point of the set. Adrienne Gehan and Correy Johnson teamed up to earn the Bears their luckiest point of the set, putting them ahead 13-10. Cal's 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th points all came courtesy Correy Johnson. Shannon Hawari brought things to 21-15 with a kill off an Elly Barrett set. The Panthers rattled off four unanswered points to crawl within one at 22-21, forcing Cal to take its first timeout of the match and 2011 season. FIU could not handle a Correy Johnson spike, giving set point to the Bears.
Set Two - Cal 25, FIU 16
Tarah Murrey put down a kill to give Cal its biggest lead to that point of the set at 11-6, after which FIU called a timeout. A Panther service error (Andrea Lakovic), a Bear service ace (Elly Barrett) and a Cal kill (Tarah Murrey) put the Bears up by seven, 14-7. Gehan made a dig and then jumped right back up for a kill, distancing Cal, 23-13. FIU's Andrea Lakovic and Renele Forde combined to avoid a 10-point loss, but then it was Barrett and Hawari's turn to block for set point.
Set Three - Cal 25, FIU 15
Gehan scored back-to-back points to start set three off on a high note, 3-0. A pair of consecutive blocks - Kat Brown and Barrett on one and Brown and Murrey on the second - put the Bears up at 12-8 and then 13-8, respectively. Gehan responded to a dig from the FIU side that cleared the net with an oh-so powerful hit, bringing the score to 16-9. Tarah Murrey tallied a service ace for the 21st point of the set, and a kill from Hawari closed the set, 25-15.
Next Time Out
The Bears make their longest trip - distance wise - for a two-day tournament in Charlottesville, Va. On Sept. 2, Cal takes on Long Island at 10 a.m. PT before tackling host Virginia at 4 p.m. PT. Things conclude Sept. 3 with a 10 a.m. PT match against East Carolina.
Next Time at Haas Pavilion
After the Labor Day Weekend journey to Virginia, Cal returns to Berkeley to host the Hilton Garden Inn Classic on Sept. 9 and 10. Sacramento State, Nevada, Texas-Arlington and Georgetown will all journey to Haas Pavilion for the eight-match, two-day tourney.
Cal Molten Classic All-Tournament Team
MVP: Correy Johnson - California