Extra tidbits for Cal’s matchup with USC

Chris McDermut/File

Gehan Injury Update:

Adrienne Gehan suffered a dislocated left ankle last Friday night against Colorado. An MRI revealed ligament damage, though she did not break anything. The 6-foot-3 outside hitter is on crutches with a boot on her foot.

There is not timetable for Gehan’s return to the court. According to the team trainer Linda Smith, it will all depend on how Gehan responds to treatment.

Coach Rich Feller said freshman Christina Higgins would get the start in Gehan’s place, but sophomore Lauren Loerch will be ready to go on the bench if things don’t go the way Feller wants.

By all accounts, Higgins is looking more and more comfortable on the left side after spending the summer and beginning of the season on the right side. Fellow outside hitter Tarah Murrey has taken Higgins under her wing, and Higgins seems to be taking to her new role quite nicely.

Middle Competition:

With Gehan’s unexpected exit and Higgins move to the outside, junior Correy Johnson said she’ll remain on the right side. Previously, Johnson was in competition with middle hitters Shannon Hawari and Kat Brown for a spot there while battling

It only seems natural that Johnson would stay on the right side. She has been extremely effective, especially on the slide play hitting behind the setter. The Winter Park, Fla., native has the second-best attack rate in the conference, trailing only Brown.

“I actually like it because it’s not so much new for me, so I feel like I can be much more vocal about what I’m doing,” Johnson said. “I know when I’m doing things wrong and doing things right. When I was in the middle, I wasn’t as comfortable.”

Brown and Hawari have certainly been holding their own in the middle. Brown leads the team in blocks with 1.31 per set. Hawari is seventh in the Pac-12 in blocks, three slots behind her teammate, and fourth in hitting percentage.

Energy:  

The Galen Center will be rocking tonight. USC is coming off an embarrassing home opener a few weeks ago, but regained steam with an upset over Washington. The Trojans assuredly have some extra fire to play Cal, the team they beat twice in the regular season but got gutted by in the Final Four to end their season.

Still, the Bears are excited to be playing in front of a large and involved crowd.

“We’re pretty good at just using the energy in the gym, whether it’s for us or against us,” setter Elly Barrett said.

Cal has a tendency to come out slow in matches, though they came out on fire against Utah last Saturday night. Johnson said the squad made a conscious effort to correct that problem by focusing more intently during warm-ups.

The team doesn’t believe the hostile crowd noise will affect its performance.

“Big crowds, energy has not affected us so far,” Feller said. “This team last year played very well within hostile crowds for the most part and very well in big crowds. We had a huge crowd here obviously for us (against Stanford).

“Once the crowd gets to a certain noise level, it’s just loud.”

High School Reunion:

Barrett will be squaring off against her former high school and club teammate Sara Shaw on Friday. Shaw has stepped into the role as the Trojans’ No. 2 outside hitter this year behind superstar Alex Jupiter. The sophomore got the job largely due to the departure of last year’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Falyn Fonoimoana, who left the team due to academic issues.

Barrett said it didn’t necessarily give her an advantage, but said she knew the kind of player Shaw is.

“I know that she’s a very smart player, so she will make adjustments quickly,” Barrett said. “I can’t say that I know exactly how she’ll hit, but I know she’s smart and crafty.”

Shaw posted career numbers last weekend in USC’s upset of Washington. The Huskies focused primarily on containing the Trojans’ three All-Americans, which opened the door for Shaw and fellow attacker Katie Fuller to burn Washington.

Cal stressed not making the same mistake in its contest against the Trojans.