Cal volleyball breezes through Cal Molten Classic

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After the first two matches of the season, the Cal volleyball team is humming like a well-oiled machine — efficient and effective.

The Bears (2-0) cruised through the Cal Molten Classic over the weekend by defeating both Nevada (0-3) and New Mexico State (1-2) each in three sets.

Cal first played Nevada on Friday in the team’s season opener, and the match was never close. The Bears dominated in a 25-11, 25-12, 25-20 victory.

In the first set, Cal held Nevada to a -.037 hitting percentage, meaning the Wolf Pack had more errors than successful kills. Meanwhile, the Bears’ hitting percentage was a staggering .423.

The dominance began with team co-captain Adrienne Gehan, who was always in the right place to make a big play for the Bears. The senior outside hitter had 16 kills in 26 attempts, and also tacked on eight digs and four blocks.

“She’s taking on the roll that we need her to take on to be successful,” said coach Rich Feller of the only four-year starter on the squad.

The Nevada match also featured star performances from Michelle Neumayr and Maddy Kerr, who were both playing in their first matches for the Bears.

Neumayr is a redshirt sophomore that missed both of the last two seasons with consecutive ACL tears. But she looked like a veteran on Friday, and lived up to her distinction as co-captain along with Gehan. Neumayr recorded 10 kills and eight digs in her Cal debut.

“I definitely had some nerves before but once I got out there we gelled really well as a team,” Neumayr said after the match. “I just felt so honored to play for Cal finally.”

Kerr, meanwhile, is a freshman starting at libero for the Bears. She had a team-high 14 digs against Nevada. The San Diego native earned praise from her teammates and coach Feller for a performance that featured no errors.

“I was really nervous,” Kerr said. “It was like the scariest thing of my entire life.”

The Bears continued their impressive play on Saturday against New Mexico State, with different players taking the spotlight. While Gehan still put up a strong performance with 10 kills and nine digs, it was Lillian Schonewise who led the way with 13 kills and a .694 hitting percentage.

Cal took that match 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 in another three set victory.

The Bears looked more settled in the second match of the year, and cut down their attack errors from 11 in the Nevada match to just eight against New Mexico State. They were also able to cut down their service errors — a problem against Nevada when many serves flew into the net — from nine to six.

Though it’s early in the season and the wins were not against top opponents, the wins still showcased that the Bears are a talented team that can play quality volleyball.

“These two wins kind of put us a little bit ahead of the game because we know what we’re capable of,” Schonewise said. “And there’s nowhere to go but up.”

Contact Riley McAtee at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @riley_mcatee