No. 14 Cal Volleyball to Play No. 15 LSU in NCAA First Round at Cal Poly
Nov. 26, 2006
BERKELEY, CALIF. - The 14th-ranked California women's volleyball team earned a school-record fifth straight NCAA Tournament bid Sunday when the NCAA selection committee paired the Golden Bears (20-9) with No. 15-ranked LSU (26-5) from the SEC in a first-round match to be played at 6 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 1, at Mott Gymnasium on the campus of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. If the Bears, who received an at-large selection to the postseason, defeat the Tigers, they would play the winner of the Michigan (21-12)-No. 15-ranked Cal Poly (22-5) first-round match in the NCAA second round at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.
Cal will be playing LSU for the first time since defeating the Tigers, 2-0, Nov. 4, 1983 at the UCLA NIVT Tournament in Los Angeles. The Bears have a 2-0 all-time record versus Michigan, including topping the Wolverines, 3-0, in the 2003 NCAA second round, Dec. 6, 2003 at Haas Pavilion. Cal is 6-6 all-time versus host and the No. 15 national seed Cal Poly. In the last meeting between the two schools, the Bears defeated the Mustangs, 3-0, Sept. 13, 2003 in the championship match of the Golden Bear Invitational at Haas Pavilion. The last time Cal played Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, the Bears won, 3-1, Nov. 11, 1995.
'It feels good to be able to qualify for the NCAA tournament for a fifth consecutive year,' said Cal head coach Rich Feller, who has led the Bears to the postseason play from 2002-06, reaching the NCAA second round all four of the previous years, including a round of 16 appearance in 2003. 'It is a credit to our players that we have been able to build our program to a level where can consistently qualify for postseason. This year's team realized it was in reach and they made sure they stayed on top of their goals and got it done. Making the NCAAs five years in a row puts Cal volleyball in an elite group. I think the team feels a sense of accomplishment.'
The 2006 Bears started the season 11-0 and captured the Cal Molten Classic, the Florida International Invitational and the Golden Bear Invitational. Of Cal's nine losses this season, eight came against teams ranked higher in AVCA national poll. The Bears' 20 victories this season is only the sixth time in school history Cal has captured 20 or more matches. Feller now has an overall Cal record of 137-99 (.580 winning percentage) in eight years in Berkeley, including being selected the Pac-10 and Pacific Region Coach of the Year in 2003.
Several Bears have had standout performances this year. Junior outside hitter Angie Pressey leads Cal with 446 kills and 4.46 kills per game, was tournament MVP of the Cal Molten Classic and the Golden Bear Invitational, and was the Aug. 28 Pac-10 Player of the Week.
Senior setter Samantha Carter is Cal's all-time assist leader with 5,625 assists, only the fifth Pac-10 player to ever reach 5,000 career assists. Senior libero Jillian Davis set a new Cal single-season digs record with 538 digs in 2005, and is now the school's all-time digs leader with 1,754 career digs. Junior middle hitter Ellen Orchard is hitting .305 and leads the Bears with 149 total blocks, the second-most single-season blocks in school history. Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Beck is second on the team with 117 blocks and third with 271 kills, while freshman standout Hana Cutura is second on the team with 352 kills and was Co-MVP with Pressey at the Cal Molten Classic, and was the MVP of the Florida International Invitational.
A total of seven Pac-10 teams - Cal, Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, USC, UCLA and Oregon - earned their way into the 2006 postseason. Teams winning NCAA Tournament second-round matches will move on to regional play Dec. 8-9. If Cal advances, it would play its regional in Austin, Texas. Next are the national semifinals on Dec. 14 and the national final on Dec. 15 at the Quest Center Omaha in Omaha, Neb. The University of Nebraska, the nation's No. 1 seed, serves as host of the final four.