Cal Volleyball Looking Forward to 2001 Season

July 19, 2001

As the California volleyball program enters its third season under head coach Rich Feller, expectations and excitement continue to rise as the Golden Bears gun for an NCAA Regional berth. Cal has produced back-to-back 13-15 seasons, the best back-to-back records since the 1988-89 campaigns, the last time the Bears qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Cal also returns the majority of the 2000 squad, losing only one starter, standout Alicia Perry. Perry was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection and finished her career as only the fourth Bear to record over 1000 kills and 1000 digs. Cal does return five other starters and features considerable strength off the bench.

'We needed to replace some offensive power with the loss of Alicia Perry to graduation,' said Feller. 'We believe we did that with a couple of new players who are extremely talented offensively, Mia Jerkov and Camille Leffall. We also return junior middle blocker Reena Pardiwala, who now has had a whole year of experience behind her and a better understanding of Pac-10 competition, and senior setter Candace McNamee, who is playing with the National Team this summer and should be fit and ready for a fine senior year.'

Pardiwala and McNamee had solid seasons in 2000. Pardiwala finished with a school-record .298 single-season hitting percentage and was an Albuturkey Classic all-tournament selection. McNamee, who can also be utilized as an outside hitter, had two triple-doubles during the year and was an all-tournament pick at the Golden Bear Classic.

Other returnees include sophomore outside hitter Gabrielle Abernathy, junior outside hitter Leah Young and junior setter Caity Noonan. Abernathy showed flashes of brilliance during her freshman year, earning Pac-10 honorable mention All-Freshman and was all-tournament at the Silver Legacy Invitational. Young and Noonan have been valuable contributors for the past two seasons as an outside hitter and as a setter, respectively.

'Both Gabrielle and Leah provide us with strong, solid play at outside hitter, and Caity returns ready to give us her usual great effort,' said Feller. 'We will also have Astrid Gonzalez available as a setter/outside hitter after redshirting last season (due to a stress fracture in her left tibia), so we should be in good shape with our setting and defense.'

Besides Gonzalez, who had impressive credentials out of high school and was a member of the 1999 Junior Olympic champion Ichiban Volleyball Club, Feller is also expecting immediate contributions from freshman standouts Jerkov and Leffall. Jerkov is a 6-3 outside hitter from Split, Croatia who has gained extensive international experience as a member of the Croatian National Team. Leffall is a 6-0 middle blocker from Upland High School in Upland, CA who was named the 1999 Los Angeles Times Player of the Year and chose Cal over Michigan, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Santa Clara.

The Bears bring in local standout Julie Colmery as well. Colmery is a 5-11 freshman middle blocker from Carondelet High School in Concord, where she was Bay Valley Athletic League MVP and first team All-East Bay as a senior.

Cal also features five sophomores, who as a group saw extensive action and gained valuable experience as freshmen in 2000. Defensive specialists/outside hitters Ashleigh Turner and Jenna Grigsby both contributed in the back row in several matches for the Bears, while 6-2 middle blocker Heather Diers had a .287 hitting percentage with 68 total blocks. Middle blockers Jessica Zatica and Lisa Collette saw limited action, but both are projected to be key players for Cal in the future.

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