Cal to host seven home matches over next eight days

Kellen Freeman/File
Senior Tarah Murrey was one of three Bears selected to the all-tournament team at the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup.

In collegiate volleyball, a seven-match home stand usually translates to a few weekends hosting opponents in your gym.

When the No. 1 Cal volleyball team welcomes University of Texas-Arlington, to Haas Pavilion at 1 p.m. on Friday, it will mark the first of seven straight home matches. In eight days.

One of the toughest matches of the year against No. 3 Stanford takes place on Tuesday, after four preseason games this weekend in the Hilton Garden Inn Classic and before two tilts next weekend against Pac-12 newcomers Colorado and Utah.

“We were a little nervous about (this weekend), just because we play Stanford on Tuesday,” redshirt junior Shannon Hawari said. “Hopefully it’ll just be more experience for us going into the (next) weekend, and I’m sure the coaches will do a good job giving us enough time to rest before we play Stanford.”

Coach Rich Feller doesn’t feel he has bitten off more than his team can chew. He sees this weekend’s tournament against lesser opponents as an opportunity to get more people experience, toy with some different lineups and get his Tuesday starters an adequate balance of tune-up time on the court and rest.

While the Bears (6-0) will play more matches this weekend, they’re taking it relatively easy compared to Stanford. The Cardinal will take on two top-10 teams this weekend.

The Bears will wrap up the preseason without having played a ranked opponent, and Georgetown (4-2) is the only team Cal will face this weekend that enters the tournament with a winning record. Thus far, Feller’s squad has yet to drop a set.

“The reason we scheduled the two double-days (this weekend) was just to make sure we are ready, we have enough games under our belt when we play Stanford,” Feller said. “We want to make sure we’re seeing everything we can see and get as ready as we can be.”

Part of the “grind” of the next week or so is working on what Feller calls “the little things” that are plaguing the team, such as serve receive. They’re also the non-technical aspects of the game, like knowing when to go for a ball or when a teammate will go for it.

“We want to get the attitude that everyone’s going for the ball all the time until the whistle blows,” Feller said. “It’s not difficult to build. It just takes time.”

The team enters the weekend tournament with very limited knowledge of its opponents, which sophomore Adrienne Gehan said helps the Bears focus on their own side of the net even more.

Feller believes his team will have the highest level of familiarity with Sacramento State (3-3), which runs an up-tempo offense similar to Cal’s attack. Those two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The greatest unknowns are probably Texas-Arlington (2-6), Cal’s first adversary, and the Hoyas, who the Bears take on to close the tournament on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cal also draws Nevada (1-6) on Friday night at 7 p.m. Feller faced the Wolfpack as recently as 2005.