California Volleyball Finishes Best Season In Program History With No. 4 Ranking
Dec. 19, 2007
BEAR NOTES: The No. 4 California volleyball team completed the 2007 season with a 26-8 record, the most successful campaign in program history. The Golden Bears advanced to the national semifinal match in the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship for the first time in school history by defeating defending NCAA Champion then No. 2 Nebraska to claim the Wisconsin regional crown. Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura was named the MVP of the Wisconsin Regional All-Tournament Team where she was joined by senior outside hitter Angie Pressey and freshman setter Carli Lloyd. The final 2007 CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll has the Bears at No. 4, not only the highest finish in Cal history, but also the highest ranking for a Golden Bear team in school history. The squad set many school and individual records in 2007, including smashing the old school record for hitting percentage in a match (.702 vs. UNC-Wilmington, Sept. 1) and total team blocks in a season with 454.0. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard became the school's all-time career blocks leader, finishing with 504 in her four seasons as a Bear while Lloyd came within six assists of setting a new all-time single-season record for assists. Cutura, Orchard and Pressey have left indelible marks in the Cal record books, each making moves into the top ten in many single-season and career categories. Cutura became California's fifth All-American with her selection to the second team while Pressey's first-team honors made her a two-time All-American. Head coach Rich Feller continues to build on his resume as the most successful coach in Cal volleyball history and hopes to return his team to elite status next season with the arrival of heralded recruits outside hitter Tarah Murrey and middle hitter Shannon Hawari. The Bears will seek to improve in 2008 after matching old records for Pac-10 conference wins and advancing further in postseason play than any Cal squad of the past.
CAL IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: With this season's selection, California made 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 played and have now advanced to the regional semifinal three times; once also in 2003 (a program first) and once again in 2006. Cal's appearance in the Wisconsin Regional final and the national semifinal match are each program firsts. California holds an 11-6 NCAA postseason record with coach Feller. Three Bears were honored with NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team selections, another program-first this season; senior outside hitter Angie Pressey, sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura and freshman setter Carli Lloyd. Cutura was selected the MVP of the Regional All-Tournament Team.
CALIFORNIA POSTSEASON HONORS: Five Golden Bears were honored 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 honored with her selection to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Three Bears were selected to the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament Wisconsin Regional All-Tournament Team. Lloyd, Pressey and Cutura all made the team with Cutura taking home MVP honors for the region.
HEAD COACH Rich Feller: The most accomplished volleyball coach in Cal history, Rich Feller (165-108, .604 at Cal; career 464-275, .628) completed his ninth and most successful season at Berkeley. Feller has led the Bears to a school-record six consecutive NCAA appearances. This season, Feller guided the Bears to their third NCAA regional appearance in school history and its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament National Semifinal. With this years' win over Washington State, Feller led the Bears to their fourth 20-win season in six 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.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Several Bears made splashes in school record books this season, none more than senior outside hitter Angie Pressey and senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard who are in the Cal record books for both single-season and career marks. Pressey, one of five Cal All-American volleyball players in school history, and the only four-time All-Pac-10 selection, finishes her career as third on Cal's all-time kills list (1,725). Pressey is also eighth all-time with a .248 career hitting percentage and third with 4,208 attacks, surpassing Alicia Perry (1997-2000) earlier this season. Pressey had the fifth-most single-season kills (487) in school history in 2006 and came close to surpassing her own personal best, completing this season with 463. Orchard set a new school record for most total blocks in a single match with 13 against UCLA on Sept. 27 and has the school's fourth-highest career hitting percentage (.300). 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 Camille Leffall (2001-2004) and finishes with 504 total. As a senior, Orchard had the school's second most single-season blocks total with 192 and as a junior, she had the school's third-most single-season blocks (168) and the ninth-best hitting percentage (.305). Orchard's hitting percentage as a senior ranks fifth all time at .334.
A HELPING HAND: True freshman setter Carli Lloyd amassed 1,550 assists in her first year for the Bears. Her total was good for second all-time for an individual season and is just five assists short of tying the Cal all-time single season mark held by Samantha Carter (1,555 in 2003). Lloyd also reached sixth on the career-ladder for total assists at Cal. Her career-high 69 assists against USC in Los Angeles on Oct. 26 were just 10 shy of the Cal record of 79 for a match. Lloyd's 12.81 apg average was fourth in the Pac-10.
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 hit .266 in 34 matches (1,956 kills, 744 errors, 4,556 attacks). Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard, sophomore middle hitter Mindi Wiley and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly have the teams highest individual percentages with .334, .325 and .304 respectively. 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 3.69 blocks per game, the Bears were far and away the best blocking team in the Pac-10 this season. Cal had two of the top five blockers in the Pac-10 on the roster. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard led the conference in blocks individually, putting up 1.60 blocks per game and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly was fifth with 1.36 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 33 matches, the Bears have reached double figures in total blocks on 30 occasions, reaching at least 16 nine times and the 20-block mark three times. Cal's 454.0 total blocks on the season is a new school record.
ON THE LOW DOWN: Cal beat up on opponents in 2007 with strong defense at the net, holding four opponents to negative hitting percentages. The Bears' .151 opponent hitting percentage was the best mark in the Pac-10. Cal surrendered a better-than .250 hitting percentage only four times this season, all losses. The losses were to UCLA at Haas Pavilion, to Washington at Bank of America Arena, to Stanford at Maples Pavilion and to Penn State in the NCAA national semifinal. The Bears were 24-3 when they hit a better percentage than their opponent.
ACES UP: California led the Pac-10 with an average of 1.75 service aces per game. Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura led the team with 37 aces and a 0.32 sapg average. Fellow sophomore outside hitter Cat Dailey averages 0.31 sapg with 21 on the year. Three other players have 28 total aces or more. Cal 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 had four aces or more in single matches (Murphy, Dailey, Kathan, Pressey, Cutura and Orchard).
DIGGING DEEP: Cal's defense at the net and conference leading blocking average showed up on an opposite statistic as the Bears were not high in the Pac-10 ranks in digs, averaging 13.91 per game. Sophomore libero Kristen Kathan came on strong late in the season and finished at ninth in the conference with 3.70 dpg. She had 17-straight contests with double digits in digs, reaching 29, 25, 19 and 18 twice during that span.
ON AN HONOR ROLL: In addition to postseason All-Pac-10 selections, several Golden Bears 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.
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. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Oregon, and No. 10 Washington 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. In tournament play, the Bears defeated then-No. 22 ranked Duke in the first round and defeated No. 18 Iowa State and No. 2 Nebraska to win the Wisconsin Regional.
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 114 times since 1982, reaching as high as and finishing as high as fourth on Dec. 19, 2007.
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 Malcolm 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 Croatian National Volleyball Team. Cutura led the team this season with 485 kills and 1,159 total attacks. Her 0.32 service aces per game was also a team-best and her defensive prowess netted her five double-double matches this year alone. Cutura's 29 kills against Stanford on Nov. 23 were a career high.
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 in the nation. Murrey hails from a family rich in athletic tradition. A local product, prepping at Saint Mary's HS in Berkeley and starring for the Golden Bear Volleyball 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.