Cal Volleyball Ranked 24th in USA Today/AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll
Aug. 11, 2003
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The University of California volleyball team, which last season finished 20-12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, is ranked 24th in the 2003 USA Today/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.
Cal's No. 24 preseason ranking is only the third time in school history the Bears have been preseason ranked in women's volleyball. Cal was ranked No. 12 in the 1983 preseason poll and No. 9 in the 1989 preseason poll. The last time the Bears were ranked in the AVCA Top 25 poll was at the end of the 1989 season (Nov. 14, 1989), when Cal finished the year 20th in the nation with a 19-13 mark, advancing to the second round of the NCAAs. The Bears have been ranked 34 times in the AVCA Top 25 poll, reaching a high of a No. 8 ranking on Sept. 26, 1989. The highest Cal has been ranked at the end of a season was 10th in 1982.
The Bears, coached by Rich Feller (fifth year at Cal 56-60, 19th year overall 355-227), had a breakthrough season in 2002, finishing 20-12 and qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1989. Cal upset No. 14-ranked Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Regional and captured three consecutive tournaments during the regular season, winning nine straight matches and a school-record 27 consecutive games in the process. The Bears also defeated six teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25 and took the No. 1 (USC) and No. 2 (Stanford) ranked teams in the nation to five games.
Cal returns four starters, five seniors and a total of 11 players from the last year's squad, including 6-3 outside hitter Mia Jerkov, the Bears' first All-American volleyball player since Sylvie Monnet in 1983. Jerkov was also first team All-Pacific Region and first team All-Pac-10. She was the MVP in all three of the Bears' 2002 tournament titles and was twice Pac-10 Player of the Week, including becoming the school's first-ever AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 21. Jerkov recorded 30 or more kills in six matches, was the Pac-10 leader in points (635.0, combining kills, blocks and service aces) and kills (578), and established school records for single-season kills (578), single-match kills (39) and kill attempts (91).
Cal also features 5-11 sophomore outside hitter Jenna Brown, a member of the 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, and 6-0 junior middle hitter Camille Leffall, the Bears' school record-holder with a .360 career hitting percentage, plus three highly touted freshmen - Samantha Carter, Natalie Smart and Amanda Fox. Cal opens its season Aug. 30 versus Hofstra at the UC Irvine Sunset Showcase in Irvine, Calif. The Bears' first home match is Thursday, Sept. 11 versus New Hampshire at 7 p.m. in Haas Pavilion during the first day of the Golden Bear Invitational.