Bears tested on first day of Hilton Garden Inn Classic

The Cal volleyball team still has not dropped a set this season, but had two close calls in its first two matches of the Hilton Garden Inn Classic on Friday.

After handily taking the first two sets from the University of Texas-Arlington, 25-14, 25-9, the No. 1 Bears found themselves on the wrong side of a 24-22 score in the third frame. Senior outside hitter Tarah Murrey just missed on a shot down the line to put the Mavericks (2-7) a point away from taking the set at Haas Pavilion.

The All-American redeemed herself with a kill to keep the Bears (8-0) alive. Back-to-back blocks gave the Bears a 25-24 lead, and Murrey put the set away after a textbook dig by defensive specialist Marlee Davis and perfect set by Elly Barrett.

Barrett, a junior from Austin, Texas, registered a career-high 40 assists in the 3-0 win, while Murrey led the squad with 14 kills on 30 attempts.

Cal’s unpolished play that led to a tight closing frame against Texas-Arlington carried into the first set of the Bears’ evening contest against Nevada (1-8). With three service errors in the opening stanza and a battle from the hungry Wolfpack squad, Cal again found itself fighting to win the set as the score neared 25.

Nevada got to set point with a kill on the outside, but junior Correy Johnson came out of the timeout and tied the match at 24 with a slam on her signature slide play. Murrey followed up with an ace, and Johnson and middle hitter Kat Brown combined on a block to secure the 26-24 win.

After coming back to life, the Bears cruised through the next two sets, 25-18, 25-12, to maintain their perfect record.

Cal returns to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a match against Sacramento State at Haas Pavilion. The Bears round out the tournament at 7 p.m. against Georgetown.