No. 10 California Takes On No. 5 UCLA And No. 4 USC

Sept. 25, 2007

BERKELEY - THIS WEEK:
Thu.-Fri., Sept. 27-28 Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif.
Thu. Sept. 27     No. 10 California vs. No. 5 UCLA    7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 28      No. 10 California vs. No. 4 USC     7 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: The No. 10 California volleyball team looks to bounce back from a loss as it faces No. 5 UCLA (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10) on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. and No. 4 USC (12-0, 2-0) on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. Both matches will be played at Haas Pavilion with the USC match being broadcast live by Comcast SportsNet. The Golden Bears opened Pac-10 conference play last weekend with a loss to No. 2 Stanford but looks to bounce back with strong performances this week. Cal returns four starters (Angie Pressey, Ellen Orchard, Morgan Beck, and Hana Cutura) from a 2006 squad that went 22-10 overall (9-9 in the Pac-10), advanced to the NCAA Round of 16, and finished the season ranked No. 13 in the country. Cal also features six other returnees and an outstanding freshman setter, Carli Lloyd, who was named the 2006 CIF Player of the Year. The Bears are looking to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for a school-record sixth straight time in 2007.

2007 QUICK CAL OUTLOOK:Cal is led by a pair of senior team captains: All-American outside hitter Angie Pressey and HM All-Pac-10 middle hitter Ellen Orchard. Pressey is also a three-time All-Pac-10 selection and is second among currently active Pac-10 players with 1,348 career kills (Washington's Christal Morrison is first). Orchard led the Bears with 163 blocks and a .305 hitting percentage last season. She is also second among active Pac-10 players in total blocks with 354 behind only Arizona's Dominique Lamb. Most recently, Orchard was named MVP of the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational. Junior outside hitter/middle hitter Beck was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection in 2006 and was second on the team in blocks (127) and third in kills (306), while sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura was a member of the 2006 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team after finishing second on the squad with 392 kills and was MVP of two tournaments.

IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Angie Pressey and Ellen Orchard are in the Cal record books for both single-season and career marks. Pressey, one of four Cal All-American volleyball players in school history, and the only three-time All-Pac-10 selection, is currently fourth on Cal's all-time kill list (1,367), sixth with a .241 career hitting percentage and seventh with 3,376 kill attempts. Pressey had the fifth-most single-season kills (487) in school history in 2006. Orchard has the school's second-highest career hitting percentage (.292) and has the fifth highest total career blocks (367). As a junior, she had the school's second-most single-season blocks (168) and the sixth-best hitting percentage (.305).

BEARS IN TV LAND: Cal's match against USC will be shown live at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. Including the USC match, the Bears will be televised four times this season. The Oct. 4 match at Oregon will be shown delayed on Fox Sports Net on Sunday, Oct. 7 at noon and again on Thursday, Oct. 11 at noon.

2007 SCHEDULE: Cal once again is competing in what is arguably the most challenging volleyball conference in the nation-the Pac-10. The Bears' 2007 schedule includes eight teams ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll, with five of those opponents coming from the Pac-10. Cal will take on No. 2 Stanford, No. 4 USC, No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Washington and No. 21 Oregon in league play. Outside of the conference, the Bears defeated a then-No. 12 Minnesota team and also notched a victory over then-No. 22 Santa Clara.

CAL VERSUS UCLA AND USC: The Golden Bears last defeated both UCLA and USC in a home-stand against the schools in 2003, sweeping the Bruins and taking the Trojans to five games. Cal has beaten USC twice in recent years, once on the road. The No. 5-ranked UCLA Bruins are led by a pair of juniors. Setter Nellie Spicer is one of the most versatile players in the Pac-10, leading the Bruins in assists (13.07apg, 3rd in the Pac-10) and putting in her share of digs and kills. Outside hitter Ali Daley averages four kills per game, good for the best amongst her teammates. UCLA leads the conference in digs as a team with 18.07 per game and is second in kills averaging 16.93kpg. The Trojans are experienced and young at the same time, starting three seniors and three freshman. Only sophomore setter Taylor Carico is neither. Carico's 12.21apg is fifth among Pac-10 setters. USC freshman Geena Urango leads the Pac-10 in service aces, serving up 0.52 per game. Senior opposite/outside hitter Asia Kaczor who was named the Pac-10 player of the week two weeks ago leads the team with 4.45 kills per game (fourth in the Pac-10) and has registered double-digits in kills in 10 of the Trojans' 12 matches (over 20 in four of those). Both the Trojans and Bruins enter this weekends' matches with 2-0 records in conference play and are each riding double-digit winning streaks (11 for UCLA and 12 for USC).

HEAD COACH Rich Feller: The most successful volleyball coach in Cal history, Rich Feller (149-102, .594 at Cal; career 448-269, .625) is in his ninth season at Berkeley. Feller led the Bears to a school-record fifth consecutive NCAA appearance and their second NCAA Regional appearance last season. In 2003, he was named Pacific Region Co-Coach of the Year and Pac-10 Coach of the Year after leading Cal to an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history. Feller was an assistant for the USA National Team from 1997-98, and head coach at Colorado State for 14 years (1983-96) prior to taking over the Bears' coaching reins in 1999.

BLOCK PARTY: The Bears lead the Pac-10 and are tops in the nation in blocks as a team with 3.90 bpg. Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly leads the conference with 1.90 bpg (second in the country) herself but senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard isn't far behind (1.45) in fifth and junior middle/outside hitter Morgan Beck (1.33) is seventh amongst Pac-10 players. Orchard is also one of only three players in the Pac-10 to have notched 10 blocks in a single match this season.

ON THE LOW DOWN: Cal has been beating opponents with strong defense at the net, holding four teams to negative hitting percentages and leading the conference in opponent hitting percentage with a mark of .086. The Bears have surrendered a better-than .200 hitting percentage only twice this season. Opposite that, the Bears' own .298 hitting percentage is sixth best in the country. Kat Reilly's Pac-10 best .484 percentage (third nationally) has certainly contributed to the success of the Bears' attack.

ACES UP: California is tops in the Pac-10 with an average of 2.18 service aces per game. Sophomore defensive specialist Kristen Kathan (0.47apg) and senior outside hitter Angie Pressey (0.44apg) are third and sixth in the conference respectively. The Bears have also reached the 10-ace mark in three separate matches this season.

CAL'S AVCA RANKING: Cal's No. 12 pre-season ranking marks the seventh time in school history that the Bears have been ranked to open a season, the fifth time since Feller became head coach in 1999. Cal was ranked 17th at the start of 2006, 19th in 2005, 10th in 2004, 24th in 2003, ninth in 1989 and 12th in 1983. The Bears finished 13th in 2006 after advancing to the NCAA Regional where they fell to No. 2 Stanford, 3-0, in Austin, Tex. Cal has been ranked a total of 100 times since 1982, reaching as high as fifth on Oct. 13, 2003. The highest the Bears have ever been ranked at the end of a season was 10th in 1982.

CAL VOLLEYBALL 2006 REVIEW: Cal finished 13th in the AVCA poll after advancing to the round of 16 for the second time in school history with 3-1 victories over then No. 16 LSU, and then No. 14 Cal Poly. Facing No. 2-ranked and eventual national runner-up Stanford on Dec. 8 at Gregory Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, Cal fell in three close games - 31-29, 30-25, 31-29 - to conclude the year 22-10. The Bears, who received an at-large selection to the postseason for the fifth consecutive year, started the season 11-0. Of Cal's 10 losses last season, nine came against teams ranked higher in the AVCA national poll. The Bears' 22 victories marked only the sixth time in school history that Cal has captured 20 or more matches. Rich Feller is the only Cal coach to lead the Bears to an NCAA Regional, and has now accomplished the feat twice (2003, 2006). Several Bears had standout performances in 2006. Angie Pressey led Cal with 487 kills and 4.39 kills per game, was tournament Co-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 finished her career as Cal's all-time assist leader with 5,777 assists and is only the fifth Pac-10 player to ever reach 5,000 career assists. Senior libero Jilian Davis set the school's all-time digs record with 1,810 career digs. Ellen Orchard hit .305 and led the Bears with 168 total blocks, the second-most single-season blocks in school history. Morgan Beck was second on the team with 127 blocks and third with 306 kills, while as a freshman Hana Cutura was second on the team with 392 kills and was Co-MVP of the Cal Molten Classic, and MVP of the Florida International Invitational.

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