Cal sand volleyball set to finish inaugural season with three matches

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The Bears are saying goodbye this weekend to their first sand volleyball season and to two Cal seniors.

The Cal sand volleyball team’s inaugural season is coming to a close with a three-game weekend event. The Bears (3-5) will host Santa Clara (6-8)on Friday at the Clark Kerr Sand Courts at 4 p.m. Cal will then travel to Sacramento State on Saturday to take on San Jose State (0-10) and Sac State (2-8). Not only does this weekend bring the end of the season, but it also marks the second farewell for seniors Adrienne Gehan and Joan Caloiaro.

Gehan and Caloiaro, two of the Bears’ top indoor players, will say goodbye for the second time this year. Gehan, named to the All-Pac-12 Team this past season, served as both the captain and the leading scorer for Cal during the indoor season. Caloiaro, a two-year starter for the Bears, ranks sixth on Cal’s all-time assist list with 2,552 total assists.Gehan and Caloiaro played together during the sand volleyball season.

“Because we don’t have a championship or a playoff or anything else, these are our final three games,” said Cal head coach Rich Feller. “They have a very unique opportunity in the world of college sports — they can finish their college careers with three wins. This isn’t just another day at the office, so to speak. It’s a chance to really do something here that almost no one else ever gets to do.”

The senior duo has a good chance to do just that, with two of the three teams Cal is playing this weekend being familiar to the Bears. Cal swept the Spartans the last time these two teams met and split matches against Sac State.In both matches against Sac State, Gehan and Caloiaro came away with a win. Friday’s match against Santa Clara will have the Bears approaching it like most of the season — not really knowing what to expect.

With most of the teams in the league only playing their first or second season of sand volleyball, the competition has started out on a clean slate. Most of the season for Cal was spent transitioning between indoor and outdoor, but with such a short season, there are not many major differences that the Bears can focus on. Still, the short list of 11 matches was ideal for Cal’s introduction to the world of sand volleyball.

“I think for us this year, 11 matches — we got to host five matches at home — it’s about right,” Feller said. “Whether it’s enough to really get to the level we want to get to, (that’s a) no. But this is not the year that we’re shooting for the level we want to aspire to eventually, and so the rest of this year’s probably the perfect length of time.”

This weekend will mark the end of the sand volleyball season, but it in no way means the volleyball players themselves are finished, as they immediately settle back into the gym to start working out for an upcoming indoor trip to Europe.

“There’s going to be some change, but those guys have played indoor 99 percent of the time more than they played outdoor, so I think it’s like riding a bike,” Feller said. “They’ll take a week, and then they’ll be back in the zone.”

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