No. 24 Cal Volleyball Travels to UC Irvine Tournament

Aug. 25, 2003

BERKELEY, CA -

Sat., Aug. 30 vs. Hofstra, Crawford Court, Irvine, CA 5 p.m.Sun., Aug. 31 at UC Irvine, Crawford Court, Irvine, CA 7 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: No. 24 ranked California, featuring one of the nation's best players in All-American Mia Jerkov, and attempting to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in consecutive years for the first time since 1988-89, opens the 2003 season at the UC Irvine Tournament Aug. 30-31 in Irvine, Calif. The Bears will take on Hofstra Saturday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m., before facing host UC Irvine Sunday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Crawford Court. Cal is also trying to extend its streak of nine straight regular season tournament victories and 27 consecutive games won in those nine matches.

2003 QUICK OUTLOOK: Cal returns four starters, five seniors and a total of 11 players from the last year's 20-12 NCAA Regional squad, including 6-3 outside hitter 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 voted the MVP in all three of the Bears' 2002 tournament titles and was twice named 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'S AVCA RANKING IS RARE HONOR: 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.

KEY NEWCOMERS: Samantha Carter, 5-11 setter, FR - Bishop Moore HS (Apopka, FL) Six-time AAU All-American; named nation's 28th top recruit by Student Sports magazine; two-time all-state selection...Natalie Smart, 6-2 middle hitter, FR - Durango HS (Las Vegas, NV) Member of USA Junior National Team; named nation's 50th top recruit by Student Sports magazine; 2002 all-conference and Sunset Region MVP...Amanda Fox, 6-3 outside hitter, FR - El Molino HS (Forestville, CA) Member of USA National Youth Team; named nation's 53rd top recruit by Student Sports magazine; 2001 and 2002 league MVP.

IMPORTANT HOME DATES: Sept. 11-13 Golden Bear Invitational, Cal opens 2003 home schedule hosting a tournament that features Nevada, Cal Poly and New Hampshire. Oct. 11 vs. Stanford, The Golden Bears host Bay Area rival and 2002 national runner-up Stanford Cardinal.

HEAD COACH Rich Feller: Rich Feller (56-60, .483 at Cal; career 355-227, .610) is in his fifth season as Cal's head coach. Feller came to the Bears after a stint as assistant coach for the USA National Team (1997-98) and 14 years as head coach at Colorado State (1983-96) where he led the Rams to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 Top 25 national rankings.

CAL VERSUS HOFSTRA AND UC IRVINE: The Bears will be facing Hofstra (0-0, 24-7 in 2002) for the first time in school history. The Pride are coached by Fran Kalafer (23rd year at Hofstra) and are led by 6-1 senior middle blocker April Nick (320 kills, .323 hitting percentage in 2002), a second team All-Colonial Athletic Association pick last season. Cal has a 7-3 all-time record against UC Irvine (0-0, 19-11 in 2002). The Bears defeated the Anteaters in the last meeting between the two schools, 3-0, Sept. 3, 1998 at UC Irvine. The Anteaters are coached by Charlie Brande (fourth year) and are led by 5-11 junior outside hitter Kelly Wing (584 kills, .281 hitting percentage in 2002), a first team All-Big West Conference selection in 2002.

BEARS' TOURNAMENT SUCCESS: Besides winning nine straight tournament matches (Golden Bear Invitational, UNLV Gameworks Classic, SMU DoubleTree Invitational) and capturing 27 consecutive tournament games to open 2002, the Bears enjoyed several individual tournament honors. As noted, Mia Jerkov garnered MVP honors in all three of last year's tournaments and will be attempting to lead Cal to its fourth straight regular season tournament this weekend at UC Irvine. In those nine tournament victories, Jerkov recorded 153 kills, 70 digs and 21 service aces. Graduated senior outside hitter Leah Young joined Jerkov as a member of the all-tournament teams for the Golden Bear, UNLV Gameworks and SMU DoubleTree Invitationals, while junior middle hitter Camille Leffall was a member of the Gameworks Classic and member of the Golden Bear Invitational all-tournament teams. Graduated setter Caity Noonan was selected all-tournament at the SMU DoubleTree Invitational.

Jenna Brown ACCOLADES: Sophomore outside hitter Jenna Brown, the Bears' 2002 leader in digs (365, 10th in the Pac-10 with 3.07 digs per game) is another Cal athlete to earn postseason accolades as she was named to the 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Brown is the 14th Bear freshman in school history to have earned conference all-freshman honors. In 2000, junior outside hitter Gabrielle Abernathy was named honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman and in 2001, junior middle hitter Camille Leffall was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. Brown also had the privilege of training with the USA National A2 squad this summer in Colorado Springs.

CAL AGAINST THE AVCA TOP 25: Competing in what is arguably the toughest volleyball conference in the nation - the Pac-10, the Bears' 2003 schedule includes seven teams ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Aug. 11 Preseason Poll. Cal will take on No. 1 USC, No. 4 Stanford, No. 10 Arizona, No. 13 UCLA, No. 14 Santa Clara, No. 16 Long Beach State and No. 19 Washington State. Cal will also face three teams - Washington, Colorado State and Arizona State - that received votes in the AVCA Preseason Poll. The Bears compete against a total of 13 teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, including Cal Poly, New Hampshire and Nevada, the three teams joining Cal for the 2003 Golden Bear Invitational. The Bears upset five teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25 last season (at No. 16 Arizona Oct. 12, No. 11 Washington State Oct. 18, then-No. 23 Arizona State Nov. 9, at then-No. 22 Washington Nov. 16, at No. 14 Santa Clara Nov. 19). The Bears were 7-4 last year in five-game matches, including losing to No. 1 ranked USC Oct. 5 and No. 3 ranked Stanford Nov. 22 in five games at Haas Pavilion. Cal upset No. 14 ranked Santa Clara twice last season, 3-2 Nov. 19 at Santa Clara, and 3-1 Dec. 6 in the first round of the NCAA Regional at UC Santa Barbara.

CAL PLAYERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Besides the 2002 team posting its best record since 1989 with a 20-12 mark, several Cal players notched their names on the school's career and single-season list. Mia Jerkov established a single-season kill record (578), surpassing Tiffany Rochelle's 568 kills set in 1988. Jerkov was also third on the single-season kill attempt list (1,400) and established school records for kills in a match (39 Oct. 17 versus Washington) and kill attempts in a match (91 Nov. 22 versus Stanford). Middle hitter Heather Diers tied a school record with 11 total blocks and the Bears establishing a new school record with 40 total team blocks Oct. 22 versus Saint Mary's. Junior middle blocker Camille Leffall (2001- ) is currently the school record-holder with a .360 career hitting percentage and set a school record for single-season hitting percentage (.381) as a freshman in 2001. Leffall also had 11 total blocks in a match, accomplishing the feat as a freshman, Oct. 23, 2001 versus Santa Clara. Outside hitter Leah Young (1999-2002) finished her Cal career seventh in career kills (1,008), eighth in career kill attempts (2,830) and eighth in career total blocks (239). Setter Caity Noonan established a school record with 1,442 assists last season, and finished her college career with 2,277 assists, fourth on the Cal career assist list.

2002 REVIEW: The 2002 Cal volleyball team had one of the best seasons in school history, finishing 20-12, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989 and defeating six opponents ranked in the AVCA Top 25. The Bears defeated No. 14 Santa Clara, 3-1, in the NCAA first round match before falling to No. 7 ranked UC Santa Barbara, 3-0. Cal's 20 victories in 2002 was only the fourth time in school history the Bears had won 20 or more matches in a season (20-21 in 1981, 28-12 in 1982 and 22-20 in 1983). Last year, Cal made its eighth postseason appearance and sixth NCAA appearance.

DID YOU KNOW? The Golden Bears featured Holly McPeak, the 1987 National Freshman of the Year, and Lisa Arce, Cal teammates from 1987-89 who went on to be a standout Olympic beach volleyball players. Mia Jerkov's father, Zeljko, is a seven-foot former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia, helping his country to a silver medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics (losing to the United States) and a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

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