Gehan impresses in Bears’ first road trip

For the second consecutive weekend, the No. 1 Cal volleyball team registered three straight-set wins in a preseason tournament and had a member of the squad named the tournament MVP.

Somewhat surprisingly, neither time has the trophy gone to All-American outside hitter Tarah Murrey.

Last weekend, middle/right side hitter Correy Johnson received the honor at the Cal Molten Classic. This weekend at the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup in Charlottesville, Va., the nod went to Murrey’s counterpart on the left side, sophomore Adrienne Gehan.

“I think it shows that this is a real team,” coach Rich Feller said. “Tarah’s for sure a superstar, but we have a lot of superstars.

“I think we’re going to show people that we have five or six (players) that will carry us on any given night.”

Gehan was already having a solid weekend at Memorial Gymnasium in the Bears’ two Friday matches, notching nine kills in a 25-14, 25-20, 25-16 win over Long Island and a game-high 15 kills against host Virginia in a 31-29, 25-14, 25-11 victory.

But the art history major from Dallas, Texas, solidified her distinction in Cal’s final match, a 25-18, 25-17, 25-18 domination of East Carolina (1-3).

When Murrey slipped during warm-ups and tweaked her hip, the coaches decided to rest the highly productive attacker as a precaution. That chain of events catapulted Gehan into the role of the go-to attacker on the outside.

“It’s really tough not having one of your top main leaders on the court,” Gehan said. “Tarah’s one of the people I look to and count on. I trust her a lot on the court.

“I think one of the good things about our team is that we run pretty deep and everybody’s capable of playing well. … We pulled together.”

Gehan responded with a game-high 14 kills for a .346 hitting percentage, and backed up her offense with a six-dig, two-service ace performance in the back row. With the sophomore leading the way, the Bears (6-0) cruised to seal the tournament title and Gehan’s MVP selection.

“It was very surprising, but very fun and exciting at the same time,” Gehan said of receiving the award. “Didn’t really even think about that kind of stuff during the tournament, just trying to play as best I could for my teammates.”

Prior to sustaining the hip injury, Murrey was certainly in contention for the MVP with a superb Friday showing, logging 13 kills and a season-high 16 digs against a feisty Virginia squad charged by an energized home crowd.

Virginia (4-2) built a 14-11 lead in the first set, but the Bears rallied to a 16-all tie. The score went back and forth until the Cavaliers reached set point on a Gehan attack error.

Twice Murrey fought off set point with Cal down 24-23 and 29-28. After she knotted the score at 29, Johnson’s swing gave the Bears set point. Murrey put the set away with her eighth kill of the frame to preserve Cal’s spotless set-winning streak.

After that hotly contested opening stanza, the Bears refocused and handily took the 3-0 victory.

“I was definitely a little stressed, but we kept fighting,” Gehan said. “We came into the middle whether we lost or won the point and knew we were going to win the next one.”