Bears Ready to Host Classic





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Home is supposed to be the place that teams love, but if a team is not allowed to play at home because the housekeeping hasn't been done, home doesn't feel so homely.

The Cal women's volleyball team (2-1, 0-0 in the Pac-10) will open up at home against McNeese State (2-1) in the first round of the Golden Bear Volleyball Classic at 7p.m. tonight at the RSF Fieldhouse.

The game will not be played in the newly renovated Haas Pavilion due to maintenance issues with the scoreboard.

This is the first time the Bears and the Cowgirls have played each other. Both teams seem evenly matched, having both taken second place in tournaments last weekend.

Also competing in the tournament is George Washington (4-0) and No. 12 Florida (3-2), which play tonight at 5 p.m.

The Golden Bear Classic is a two-round tournament with the consolation and championship games being held tomorrow night at 5p.m. and 7p.m., respectively.

"We're only playing two matches, and at this level, that's enough," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "It's a winner-take-all type of weekend since whoever wins the first night plays for the championship. There's a little more at stake (than at a round-robin tournament)."

So far the Bears have been playing as though it's all at stake. Cal opened its season last weekend in Reno with a second place finish at the Silver Legacy Invitational due in large part to the contribution of the freshman starters, Tess Zatica and Gabrielle Abernathy.

Zatica and Gabrielle played well enough to earn a starting spot again this weekend. Freshman Ashleigh Turner also had a significant role and will likely see action tonight as well.

Abernathy led the team in kills against Nevada-Reno last weekend with 17 and also added 13 digs for her first double-double.

That sort of production has been appreciated but not expected from Feller.

"They'll be freshmen all year," Feller said. "They'll be great sometimes and then they'll be freshmen sometimes."

Fortunately for the Bears, they won't have to rely completely on youth to lead them this weekend.

Senior outside hitter Alicia Perry has been working hard on both her hitting and attitude this week in practice to keep the team excited.

"We have to go in there with a positive attitude this weekend," Perry said. "It's anybody's game. We just need to focus and have fun because that's when we win."

Perry's vocal leadership both on and off the court has been a blessing for this young team. She is the only four-year starter on the team and the only player who has seen the type of talent Cal will face this weekend.

Should the Bears win, they will most likely face the Gators tomorrow night.

Florida, which has been in four of the last five final fours at the NCAA Championships, is missing its star middle blocker.

One might think this could put Florida at a disadvantage for the tournament, especially since George Washington is on a 12-game winning streak, but it probably won't even matter.

"Teams change year to year, but Florida is always used to winning," Feller said. "They're not a team that is going to stop playing hard."

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