California Volleyball NCAA Regional Press Conference
Dec. 6, 2007
MADISON, Wis. -
California volleyball head coach Rich Feller brought senior outside hitter Angie Preseey, senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard and sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura to today's pre-match press conference. The four talked about the team and their competition at the Wisconsin Regional coming up this weekend.
Opening Comment from Coach Rich Feller: Well, it's great to be here back in Wisconsin this time in the Sweet 16 instead of the first and second rounds here a couple years ago. Our team has worked very very hard this year; we've traveled lots of frequent flyer miles, especially in the last couple weeks and pleased to be here and really happy that our sport is indoors.
Coach, what are the challenges that Iowa State will present and are you surprised that you're matched up with Iowa State?
FELLER: Nothing surprises me anymore. Iowa State's a pretty good program you can see by their recent record how much they've improved and their back in the tournament for the third time. They're big, they're quick, they play a very good brand of volleyball. We're expecting to battle for every point that we win.
Obviously people identify Stanford with being close to Sacremento next weekend if they can get there; you guys are right there as well. How big of a drive is it for you guys especially after being on the road for the last two weeks to think about the possibilities to being close to home and playing for a national championship next week?
FELLER: I think we're thinking about tomorrow night, honestly. And we're 50 miles closer than Stanford is to Sacramento.
Coach, it's kind of 'old home week' with Chris Bigelow among others coming back to Wisconsin. Could you just talk a little bit about when you hired Chris what you saw and what she's brought to the program?
FELLER: I stole her from Wisconsin. Actually, Chris and I go way, way back. She is recognized as the top-talent recruiter in the country I think for women's volleyball. When I first got the call to interview at Cal, she was my very first thought as an assistant coach to begin to build the program. I called her prior to me even going up for interview and as soon as the interview happened, I called her again.
You all hosted 'final four' that year so I made an appointment to see her as soon as the final four was started and interviewed her here because I had just gotten offered the job. I think that was a huge step in the building of the Cal program that is now here in 2007, is bringing some of the new talent and recruiting to final four teams and could help start something from the ground up. I think it's great that she's back here at home; there's lot's of little stories. Volleyball coaches seem to last forever, we don't go away, we just hang on for a long time. All of the coaches that are at this tournament have a lot of history with each other, which is kind of fun.
Angie, what do you see as the team's strengths and do you think the team is playing its best volleyball?
Angie Pressey: I would definitely say yes. With our last practice before we left to come here was one of the best practices we've had this year. I would definitely say our strength is in our blocking. Ellen Orchard to my right holds our school record for our blocking and it has just been an amazing year for her as well as our team in blocking, I don't know what we are in the Pac-10, wait, we are No. 1 in the Pac-10 in blocking, so that's definitely a strength for us.
What familiarity do you have with Wisconsin Angie, since your father did play in Milwaukee (Bucks) for a while?
PRESSEY: I remember dancing with the mascot (Bango the Buck) mascot at halftime and that's about it. I don't remember him playing too much, I remember short shorts.
Angie, I think I asked you this question when you were here five years ago: You're only 5-8, how do you hit like you do? Especially being a senior, what have you learned?
PRESSEY: I guess I contribute my jumping to my parents' genes. As far as learning, with leaping ability, you have to have timing as well. People jump high, but it's the timing and when you hit and where you hit that's taken me a while, but over the last few years I've definitely improved in those areas.
Coach, on the topic of blocking, when you look at Iowa State, that's obviously a strength of their game too. Does that make for an interesting matchup?
FELLER: Yeah, I think it will. If you look at the types of teams we both are, we're very similar. They are a big, strong blocking team. They've got some powerful outside hitters, some quick middle blockers, a good setter, they run the same kind of offense that we do, so I think it's going to be a really interesting matchup.
We have muscled up on a lot of teams this year. I don't know if people have muscled up on them, but when we get into a good rhythm and we figure out some things the team is doing and our blocking is working well and our defense picks up, then our offense is pretty hard to stop. So if we can do that, I think it's going to be a lot more fun on our side but I'm sure there's going to be some great rallies and lots of really hard attacks, a lot of big stuff blocks on both sides.
This is for Ellen and Hana who haven't really talked much. If you could talk about what you see as the strengths of your team and the challenges that Iowa State presents?
Hana Cutura: I think that the strength of our team is that we are really supportive of each other and we trust each other. So every time that Angie is hitting, I feel that she's going to get a kill. I think that's the biggest strength of our team.
Ellen Orchard: To add to that, I think right now our team is so cohesive and just this last run of the season, we pick each other up on the court and that's when we go on a roll is whenever we're all just working as one unit. That's when our blocking is on and our defense is a result.
PRESSEY: To go along with that, it's very rare to have a team that you like, I like everyone. Usually, you don't like everyone, but you play with everyone. But this team, we all like each other and we're all on the same page, it's a great feeling that I've never had before.
Transcription provided courtesy of Wisconsin Athletic Communications.