The Cal women’s volleyball team (15-15) will open the NCAA tournament on Thursday against North Carolina (25-5) at Ames, Iowa. The match begins at 3 p.m. PT.
This is the Bears’ 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, and a win would push them into Friday’s second-round game against 15th-seeded Iowa State (20-7) or Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne (25-6). The subregional survivor advances to the regionals at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley on Dec. 7-8.
Cal and UNC have squared off the previous two seasons in the NCAAs, with Cal winning in the second round in 2010 and the Tar Heels knocking the Bears out in the first round in 2011.
The Bears have advanced to the national semifinals two of the past five seasons, and reached the national championship match in 2010.
This Cal team struggled to stay healthy, losing two starters during the preseason and enduring stretches of the year without other key players. Senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari was a consistent bright spot and earned all-Pac-12 first-team honors.
Senior middle hitter Kat Brown finished the regular season tied atop Cal’s career list with 504 blocks. She is poised to break the mark set by Ellen Orchard (2004-07).