The University of California, Merced, will celebrate the first varsity sporting events on campus next week, with the women’s volleyball team playing its home opener on Sept. 22 and an Athletics Kickoff Tailgate event prior to their game on Sept. 24.
The Golden Bobcats  are in their first season of competition in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the campus is gearing up for the Sept. 22 volleyball match against Pacific Union College, one of UC Merced’s opponents in the California Pacific Conference.
The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center. General admission is $5. Admission is free for UC Merced undergraduates and $2 for UC Merced graduate students, high school students or students from other colleges.
“We are excited to be hosting our first home volleyball match,” said David Dunham, director of recreation and athletics. “It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from our student athletes, staff and community supporters to bring us to this point. Our student athletes are ready to compete in front of their home crowd.”
Two days later, on Sept. 24, the Bobcats will take on Cal State San Marcos in a nonconference match at 5 p.m. Prior to the game, at 3:30 p.m., the Recreation and Athletics Department will host an Athletics Kickoff Tailgate. The event will provide an opportunity for the Merced community to meet the coaches, enjoy light refreshments and learn about the Bobcat Club, the primary fundraising and support group for UC Merced athletics.
Admission for the tailgate, which will be held outside the entrance to the Recreation Center, is $30 for both the event and the game or $25 for the event only.
UC Merced volleyball coach Allen McCreary  said the Bobcats are not surprisingly a young and inexperienced squad, but they are improving and will continue to grow as they lay the foundation for the future of UC Merced volleyball.
“The team continues to improve daily and is getting stronger,” McCreary said. “By the end of the year, they will be physically and mentally tougher and will have played together.”
“We need to continue to develop a fierce competitive spirit. When you put on the blue and gold, you get after it.”