No. 16 Cal Faces Valpo in NCAA First Round
Nov. 29, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. - BEAR NOTES: Sixteenth-ranked California (18-10) will compete in its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament when the Golden Bears play Mid-Continent Conference champion Valparaiso (27-7) in the first round of the postseason at 5 p.m. CT at the UW Field House in Madison, Wis. If Cal beats Valpo, it would play the winner of the later first-round match between host and 11th-seeded Wisconsin (23-6) and Loyola (Ill.) (13-17) at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Cal has never played Valparaiso or Horizon League champion Loyola (Ill.) (13-17). Fourteenth-ranked Wisconsin, which like Cal received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, has a 1-0 advantage in its all-time series with the Bears. Cal's senior class of Alicia Powers, Jenna Brown and Alexis Kollias is the first group in school history to make NCAA Tournament appearances in all four years of their eligibility.
Cal coach Rich Feller is now the only coach to lead the Bears to four straight postseasons, to an NCAA Tournament sweet 16 appearance and a win over UCLA, which happened on Sept. 23 this season. The Bears are coming off three straight losses, including a loss to the Bruins in the second match of the regular-season series. In that match, junior libero Jillian Davis tallied 27 digs to become Cal's new single-season digs leader, with 499. She passed former Cal star Lisa Arce, who had 480 digs in 1988.
Several Bears had standout performances this year, including outside hitter Angie Pressey. The sophomore, who was named to the 2005 All-Pac-10 Team, leads Cal with 420 kills and 4.12 kills per game, hit .250 (420k, 167e, 1014att) and was second on the team with 284 digs and 27 service aces. Brown, an outside hitter, was third on the team with 283 kills, hit .282 (283k, 103e, 639att) and ranked third on the squad with 85 total blocks. Junior setter Samantha Carter, who this year became Cal's all-time assist leader, had another outstanding season with 1,346 assists and a team-high 37 service assists. Carter currently has 4,250 career assists. Davis leads the Bears in digs per game (4.71). Outside hitter Morgan Beck made a big splash in her first year at Cal, trailing only Pressey in kills (321) and in kills per game (3.24). Sophomore middle hitter Ellen Orchard was another standout Bear, leading Cal with 117 blocks (14 block solos, 103 block assists) and hitting .265 (219k, 74e, 548att). Powers, a senior middle hitter, hit .263 (265k, 101e, 621att) and was second to Orchard with 113 total blocks (14bs, 99ba). Also, Brown, Powers, Carter and Davis earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors. Beck earned a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
Other highlights for the Bears this year have been winning the CenturyTel/Classic Honda Premier in San Marcos, Texas, Sept. 4, with Davis being named tournament MVP, and Pressey being named the Sept. 26 Pac-10 Player of the Week after leading the Bears to their wins over UCLA and USC...The Bears have five starters (Pressey 4.12, Beck 3.24, Brown 2.67, Powers 2.57 and Orchard 2.28) averaging over 2.00 kills per game.
HEAD COACH Rich Feller: Rich Feller 116-89 (.566 at Cal; career 415-256, .618) is in his seventh season at Cal. Feller won his 100th game as the Bears' coach Sept. 2 at Texas State, and earned his 400th career victory Sept. 3 against Morgan State. In 2003, he was named both the Pacific Region and Pac-10 Coach of the Year after leading the Bears to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history. Feller came to Cal after two years as an assistant for the USA National Team (1997-98) and 14 years as head coach at Colorado State (1983-96, eight NCAA Tournaments).
BEARS AMONG PAC-10'S BEST: The Bears have five players among the stat leaders in the Pac-10. Pressey is seventh in kills (4.12pg, 420) and eighth in points per game (4.78pg, 488). Carter is third in the Pac-10 in assists (12.70pg, 1,346) and seventh in service aces (0.35pg, 37), Davis is fifth in digs (4.71pg, 499), and Orchard and Powers are sixth and ninth, respectively, in blocks per game (117, 1.22pg and 113, 1.10pg). As a team, Cal is second in opponent hitting percentage (.170), fourth in service aces (166, 1.57pg); fifth in blocks (297, 2.80) and hitting percentage (.233), third in digs (1,736, 16.38pg); sixth in kills (1,691, 15.95pg) and sixth in assists (1,551, 14.63pg).
SCOUTING VALPARAISO: Valparaiso won the Mid-Continent Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by beating Oral Roberts, 3-1 (30-26, 30-28, 28-30, 30-15), in the conference tournament final on Nov. 20 in Valparaiso, Ind. The win gave the Crusaders three straight Mid-Continent Conference tournament championships to go along with three straight conference regular-season titles.
Valpo dominated its conference en route to a 13-1 regular-season conference record. Its lone conference loss this year, and its first conference loss since 2003, was a 3-2 (30-16, 28-30, 21-30, 30-26, 7-15) setback to Oral Roberts on Oct. 14 in Tulsa, Okla. The Crusaders ended their regular season with a 3-0 loss (25-30, 24-30, 27-30) to Marquette last night in Milwaukee, Wis. Valpo played just one 2005 Pac-10 opponent, losing, 3-2 (28-30, 30-21, 30-24, 24-30, 9-15), to UCLA on Sept. 16 in a tournament in Madison.
Sophomore outside hitter Amy Palash leads Valpo with 329 kills and 3.43 kills per game. Senior setter Katie Bova leads the Crusaders with 1,378 assists, 11.88 assists per game and 390 digs. Senior middle blocker Liz Mikos (157, 1.39 bpg) and junior middle blocker Jessie Fox (147, 1.29 bpg) rank 1-2 in blocks and blocks per game, respectively, for fourth-year Valpo coach Carin Avery.
SCOUTING WISCONSIN: Wisconsin was the runner-up to Penn State in the Big Ten Conference this season and received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Pete Waite, in his seventh year in Madison, has a 175-72 record (.709) at Wisconsin and an overall record of 441-154 (.741) over 18 years of coaching. The Badgers enter the postseason riding a five-match winning streak, including a 3-1 (30-22, 30-16, 28-30, 30-15) win over Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 26. Key wins for Wisconsin this season include a 3-0 win (30-26, 30-28, 30-23) over then 11th-ranked UCLA, a 3-2 (19-30, 30-27, 27-30, 30-24, 15-12) win over Minnesota, which was ranked fifth at the time, and a 3-2 (30-27, 31-29, 28-30, 14-30, 15-9) win over Purdue, which was ranked 21st. The Badgers also swept Ohio State, which was ranked 18th and 19th during those matches.
Six-two freshman Audra Jeffers leads Wisconsin in kills (341) and kills per game (3.44) and has a .269 hitting percentage (341k, 129e, 788att). Wisconsin's top hitter is 6-3 sophomore middle blocker Taylor Reineke, who boasts a .326 hitting percentage (241k, 54e, 573att) and leads the Badgers in blocks with 169 (13bs, 156ba) and blocks per game (1.67). Sophomore setter Jackie Simpson leads Wisconsin with 1,000 assists on the season, sophomore Jocelyn Wack leads UW in digs (512) and senior middle blocker Sheila Shaw leads UW in services aces (32) and points (415, 4.11pg). Shaw also hits .312 (293k, 93e, 642att) and is second on the team with 126 blocks (27bs, 126ba).
SCOUTING LOYOLA (ILL.): The only school in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field with a losing record (13-17), Loyola (Ill.) entered the postseason by virtue of winning the Horizon League's automatic berth. First-year head coach Marcie Bomhack's Ramblers beat Wright State, 3-2 (28-30, 30-23, 30-21, 15-30, 15-12), in the conference tournament final on Nov. 20 to claim the program's fifth postseason appearance. Loyola has won seven of its last eight matches, though right before that eight-game stretch the Ramblers lost 3-1 (27-30, 30-16, 30-23, 30-19) lost to Valparaiso. Senior middle blocker Hilary Stromath (321) and sophomore outside hitter Keily Zins (271) lead Loyola in kills and kills per game (3.03 and 2.42, respectively). Stromath also has the top hitting percentage (.260) of the Ramblers' regulars and leads Loyola in blocks (91, 21bs, 70ba) and points (381, 3.59pg). Junior setter Sarah Elmer leads her team in assists (1,088). Other Loyola statistical leaders include junior outside hitter Courtney Ashley (45 service aces) and junior libero Ann Deelo (434 digs).
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