No. 7 California Volleyball Takes On Liberty In NCAA First Round

Nov. 27, 2007


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BEAR NOTES: The No. 7 California volleyball team (22-7, 12-6 Pac-10) will travel across the country this week to play Big South Conference Champion Liberty University (27-8, 11-1 Big South) in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament. As a part of the Madison, Wis. Regional, with a first-round win, the 10th-seeded Golden Bears would face the winner of No. 22 Duke (24-6, 19-3 ACC) and American (26-7, 13-1 Patriot League) for the right to move on to the regional semifinal hosted by Wisconsin. American won the Patriot League and Duke was second in its conference behind ACC champion No. 20 Clemson.

CAL IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: With this season's selection, California will be making its sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, a program record. The Bears have now made postseason NCAA play eleven times. Prior to the current six-season run, Cal made the NCAA Tournament in 1982-83 and 1987-89 emerging from that era with a 3-5 record. Under the direction of head coach Rich Feller, the Bears have won each of the six first-round matches that they have been in and have twice advanced to the regional semifinal; once in 2003 (a program first) and once again in 2006. California holds a 7-5 NCAA postseason record with coach Feller. Last year, the Bears went south to San Luis Obispo, Calif. to meet Louisiana State in the first round. After defeating LSU in four, the Bears took out host Cal Poly in a 3-1 match to advance to the Austin regional. Facing the Cardinal there, Cal played three tough games, but fell to eventual NCAA runner-up Stanford in a sweep.

CALIFORNIA POSTSEASON HONORS: Five Golden Bears were honored this week with postseason Pac-10 Conference honors. Senior outside hitter Angie Pressey was named to the All-Pac-10 Team for the fourth time while sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura made her first appearance on the team. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard and junior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck each made repeat honorable mention appearances. Freshman setter Carli Lloyd was also honored with her selection to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

RUNNING WITH THE PAC: California is not the only team from the Pac-10 Conference to be selected to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Cal joins five other Pac-10 selections among the field of 64 including top-seeded Stanford. Stanford is also the highest-ranked team from the Pac-10, weighing in at No. 4 in this week's CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll and will be hosting its own first and second round matches before hosting a regional final the following week. Joining the Cardinal in the Stanford regional are eighth-seeded UCLA and Oregon. USC was awarded a fifth seed and will be hosting first and second round matches in the Gainesville, Fla. Regional. Sixth-seeded Washington was sent to the Penn State Regional and will open play at home; hosting first and second round matches as well.

LAST WEEK: The Bears concluded regular season play at rival Stanford in the Big Spike, a match televised by Fox Sports Net. Cal fell behind early in the first game but fought back hard to tie things up late before edging out the Cardinal with a 32-30 game-one win. Stanford came back in game two and hit for .372 (19k, 3e, 43att) while holding the Bears to .150 (13k, 7e, 40att) to win game two. The Bears came out of the break with a vengeance and flipped the script on Stanford, this time holding the Cardinal to .062 hitting (10k, 8e, 32att) and winning game three 30-23. Stanford knew what it had to do and forced a fifth game, taking game four 30-22. The fifth game was toe-to-toe all the way until the Bears took a two point lead at 13-11. But just as the match had gone, Stanford came back to tie things up at 14. Celebrating Senior Night, the Cardinal would not be denied as junior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza put down a kill to give her team match point. Senior outside hitter Angie Pressey took a set from freshman setter Carli Lloyd and tried to put it down the left side but a pair of Stanford blockers put the ball to the floor on a block assist to take game five and the match.

LIBERTY NOTES: The Lady Flames defeated conference rival Winthrop to win the Big South Tournament and claim the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. A week later, Liberty set a program record winning their 27th match by defeating Big East foe Georgetown. The Flames are led by redshirt junior outside hitter Jessica Nelson who has 397 kills on the season on 1,175 attacks. Not far behind are redshirt freshman outside Nicki Scripko with 375 kills and sophomore middle blocker Chelain McCarty with 385 kills. Chelaine is the top hitter for the Lady Flames, coming into the match with a .335 percentage. Junior middle blocker Ashley Webber leads Liberty in total blocks with 126 and is averaging 1.02 bpg. The win against Winthrop to claim the Big South Conference Championship was the 16th in a row for the Flames who hadn't lost since Oct. 5. Coming into the match this weekend, the Flames have won 17 of the last 18 and 19 of their last 21 matches. California has never faced a Big South opponent and will be meeting Liberty for the first time on the volleyball court. In fact, this will be the first match-up between schools from the Pac-10 and the Big South of the 2007 season.

NO. 22 DUKE AND AMERICAN NOTES: No. 22 Duke is serving as first and second round host for the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament. The Blue Devils are led by senior setter Ali Hausfeld who is averaging 14.23 assists per game this season and has 1,594 total assists this season alone. Hausfeld is usually setting up senior middle blocker Carrie DeMange who has racked up 568 kills this season (5.07 kpg) on her way to hitting .292 (192e, 1,287att). Duke finished the regular season with a 24-6 record, 19-3 in the ACC behind conference champion Clemson. Cal and Duke each fell to the USC Trojans in five-game matches at Galen Center this season but the Bears have only faced the Blue Devils once in school history, falling 3-1 in 1985. American University emerged from the Patriot League with a championship this season after finishing 26-7 overall with a 13-1 conference record. The Eagles are led by junior outside hitter Rubena Sukaj who has amassed an incredible 615 kills this season for a 5.54 kpg average. American comes into the weekend having won 22 of its last 23 matches with the only loss coming at the hands of Army. Cal has faced American once but it was just a year ago as the Bears played host to the Eagles at the 2006 Golden Bear Invitational, winning in a 3-0 sweep.

HEAD COACH Rich Feller: The most successful volleyball coach in Cal history, Rich Feller (161-107, .601 at Cal; career 460-274, .627) is in his ninth season at Berkeley. Feller has led the Bears to a school-record sixth consecutive NCAA appearance. Last season, Feller guided the Bears to their second NCAA regional appearance in school history. With this years' win over Washington State, Feller led the Bears to their fourth 20-win season in sex years. 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.

2007 QUICK CAL OUTLOOK: Cal returned four starters in 2007 (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 five 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. Senior team-captains All-American outside hitter Angie Pressey and honorable mention All-Pac-10 middle hitter Ellen Orchard lead a young Golden Bears squad. Pressey is a four-time All-Pac-10 selection and is second among currently active Pac-10 players with 1,640 career kills (Washington's Christal Morrison is first with 1,818). Orchard led the Bears in 2006 with 163 blocks and a .305 hitting percentage. She is also second among active Pac-10 players in total blocks with 477 (a school record) behind only Arizona's Dominique Lamb who has 513. Orchard was recently 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.

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 four-time All-Pac-10 selection, is currently third on Cal's all-time kills list (1,630). Pressey is also sixth all-time with a .246 career hitting percentage and third with 4,020 attacks, surpassing Alicia Perry (1997-2000) earlier this season. Pressey had the fifth-most single-season kills (487) in school history in 2006. Orchard set a new school record for most total blocks in a single match with 13 against UCLA on Sept. 27 this season and has the school's second-highest career hitting percentage (.295), behind only former Cal All-American Camille Leffall (.363). Orchard's 20 total blocks against USC and UCLA on the road this season secured the top career mark for total blocks by a Cal player, surpassing the old record of 438 held by Leffall (2001-2004). She currently has 477 heading into the postseason. As a junior, she had the school's second-most single-season blocks (168) and the sixth-best hitting percentage (.305).

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES: The Golden Bears set a new school record for hitting percentage in a match on Sept. 1 against UNC-Wilmington at the Colorado Invitational. Cal had 43 kills with only three errors on 57 attacks to register a .702 hitting percentage, a Pac-10 record and fifth on the NCAA all-time record for three-game matches. The old school record of .467 was set in 2001 against San Francisco. The Bears also hit for .449 against Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 8) and .446 against Central Florida (Aug. 31) this season. As a team in 2007, the Bears are hitting .262 in 29 matches (1,664 kills, 646 errors, 3,888 attacks) and are fourth amongst Pac-10 teams. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly are seventh and eighth respectively in the conference with a .323 and .322 hitting percentage. Orchard has 261 kills on 553 attacks and 83 errors. Reilly has 129 kills on 282 attacks with 38 errors. Reilly's .909 (10k, 0e, 11att) against Santa Clara is tied for seventh best all-time in Pac-10 history.

TOP OF THE BLOCK: Averaging 3.70 blocks per game, the Bears are far and away the best blocking team in the Pac-10. Cal has two of the top three blockers in the conference on the roster. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard leads the conference in blocks individually, putting up 1.60 blocks per game and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly is third with 1.45 bpg. Orchard registered the highest total blocking output for a single game amongst Pac-10 players this season with her school record 13 and has had 10 or more blocks five times this season. The 23 total team blocks logged by the Bears against UCLA on Sept. 27 is a Pac-10 Conference best for 2007. In 29 games, the Bears have reached double figures in total blocks on 26 occasions.

ON THE LOW DOWN: Cal has been beating opponents with strong defense at the net, holding four opponents to negative hitting percentages. The Bears' .143 opponent hitting percentage is the best mark in the Pac-10. Cal has surrendered a better-than .250 hitting percentage only three times this season, all losses. The Bears are 20-2 when they hit a better percentage than their opponent. The losses were to UCLA at Haas Pavilion and to Washington at Bank of America Arena.

ACES UP: California leads the Pac-10 with an average of 1.78 service aces per game. Sophomore outside hitter Cat Dailey averages 0.38 sapg with 21 on the year. Sophomore outside Hana Cutura leads the team with 29 total aces and a .30 sapg average. Sophomore libero Kristen Kathan is second with 27 total and a 0.28 average. Cal has reached the 10-ace mark as a team in three separate matches this season, reaching nine aces on five other occasions. Six different Cal players have had four aces or more in single matches (Murphy, Dailey, Kathan, Pressey, Hana Cutura and Ellen Orchard).

DIGGING DEEP: Cal's defense at the net and conference leading blocking average has shown up on an opposite statistic as the Bears are not high in the Pac-10 ranks in digs, averaging 13.91 per game. Sophomore libero Kristen Kathan has come on strong of late, now in eighth in the conference with 3.75 dpg. She has had 14-straight contests with double digits in digs, reaching 29, 25, 19 and 18 twice during that span.

ON AN HONOR ROLL: In addition to All-Pac-10 selections, several Golden Bears have received tournament honors this season. Seniors Angie Pressey and Ellen Orchard were named to the Molten Classic All-Tournament Team along with freshman setter Carli Lloyd who was selected as the tournament's outstanding setter. Pressey was named the tournament MVP for her performance. Pressey joined redshirt sophomore Kat Reilly on the All-Tournament Team at the 2007 Colorado Invitational. Hosting and winning the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational, four different Bears received All-Tournament team honors after defeating then-No. 12 Minnesota in a 3-0 sweep. Pressey, Orchard and Lloyd were joined by junior outside/middle Morgan Beck. Orchard was named the tournament MVP while Lloyd was once again named the outstanding setter. Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura and Reilly were named to the All-Tournament team at the Santa Clara Invitational.

BEARS IN TV LAND: The Cal vs. Stanford match at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif. on Nov. 23 was selected as the Fox Sports Net Pac-10 game of the week, making it the fifth time this season that the Bears have appeared on television. The Bears appeared on three live telecasts this season in matches against Minnesota (Sept. 8), Stanford (Sept. 21) and USC (Sept. 28), each time on Comcast SportsNet. The Cal match at Oregon was also shown on television, delayed on Fox Sports Net. Overall, the Bears are 2-3 when televised.

2007 SCHEDULE: Cal once again completed a season amidst what is arguably the most challenging volleyball conference in the nation - the Pac-10. The Bears' 2007 schedule included eight teams ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll, with five of those opponents coming from the Pac-10. Cal faced No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Washington, No. 12 UCLA, and No. 13 Oregon twice each 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'S PRESEASON 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, Texas. Cal has been ranked a total of 112 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.

GOLDEN RENAISSANCE: The Golden Bears are honored to have had the generous support of the Renaissance Fund over the years. The fund was started by Jeremy Wagner, a Cal volleyball supporter who is the main benefactor for the annual Golden Bear Invitational. Working closely with Sports 4 Kids, the Foundation also serves the athletic needs of student athletes in and around the Oakland-Alameda area, providing athletic opportunities, educational enrichment and after-school programs for inner-city youth.

READING IS ACHIEVING: Junior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has started an organization as a part of a class project that benefits local Berkeley youth through promoting literacy. The Sandy Martin Foundation rallies Cal student-athletes and sends them out to local elementary schools to do special read-aloud hours in the classroom, providing young students with positive role models and examples of a successful student. Working in conjunction with Malcom X Elementary School, student-athletes will also lead the classroom in the development of a project that encourages youths to write and produce their own books.

BEAR INTEGRITY: Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly is currently the vice-president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and will be ascending to the role of president in the spring of 2008. SAAC is a collaboration of student-athletes representing all intercollegiate teams competing for the University of California, Berkeley. The mission of SAAC is to bring the student-athlete community together; provide feedback to the athletic administration on proposed conference and NCAA legislation; foster student-athlete welfare; create relationships between student-athletes and the community by organizing community service efforts and raising funds for various causes; and to become a sounding board for the athletic administration by generating a student-athlete voice where concerns are addressed.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura is the only Bear on the roster hailing from a foreign country. A native of Zagreb, Croatia, Cutura's parents were also athletes. Her father, Zoran, is a former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia and her mother, Gordana, is a former member of the Croation National Volleyball Team. Cutura leads the team this season with 392 kills and 940 total attacks. Her 0.30 service aces per game is also a team-best and her defensive prowess has netted her five double-double matches this year alone. Cutura's 29 kills against Stanford on Nov. 23 were a career high. Aside from two players from Texas (Orchard and Reilly) and one from Florida (Pressey) everyone else on Cal's roster is from California.

CLASS OF 2012: The Golden Bears have received National Letters of Intent from two of the nation's most sought-after volleyball prospects, Tarah Murrey and Shannon Hawari. Standing at 6-3, outside hitter Tarah Murrey is regarded as one of the top two recruits, Murrey hails form a family rich in athletic tradition. A local product, prepping at Saint Mary's HS in Berkeley and starring for the Golden Bear Bolleyball Club, she earned Bay Shore Athletic League MVP honors three consecutive years (2005-07). As a junior, she was named the 2006 Contra Costa Times Player of the Year. Murrey also brings international experience with her as a member of the USA Youth National Team. Hawari prepped at Plano West HS where she also runs track. A 6-2 middle blocker, Hawari starred with one of the top club teams in Texas, the Texas Advantage. She is Prep Volleyball's No. 23 recruit in the nation and was named the Prep Volleyball Classic's Outstanding Hitter this year. Hawari brings National Junior Olympics experience as a 2006 bronze medal winner and led her club squad to back to back Big South Tourney Championships.

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 schools 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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