No. 9 Golden Bears Head South for Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic

Sept. 17, 2008

BERKELEY -

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Crowne Plaza Volleyball ClassicSept. 19-20 | Titan Gym | Fullerton, Calif.

Friday, Sept. 19No. 9 California vs. Central Connecticut State 4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20No. 9 California vs. San Francisco 10 a.m.No. 9 California vs. Cal State Fullerton 7 p.m.

The No. 9-ranked California volleyball team remains on the road this week as it heads to the real Orange County for the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic. Hosted by Cal State Fullerton, the Titans are only one of three opponents the Golden Bears will face in two days. Cal will look to build off the two wins it got at the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. after having its previous streak of five-straight victories snapped by a No. 11-ranked Minnesota squad. The Bears will use this weekend as their final tune-up before the Pac-10 season arrives in full swing. Cal also faces San Francisco and Central Connecticut State before returning to Haas to open up league-play.

THE FACTS: No. 9 Cal (7-1, 0-0 Pac-10) takes on Central Connecticut State (3-5, 0-0 NEC) first in a 4 p.m. match on Friday, Sept. 19. After a night's rest, the Bears have an early wake-up call for a meeting with San Francisco (6-3, 0-0 WCC) at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20. Hours later, Cal takes on host Cal State Fullerton (4-6, 0-0 Big West) in a 7 p.m. match to conclude tournament play. All matches will take place at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif. Live stats will not be available for any of the matches but the Cal vs. CSU Fullerton match will be webcast via www.fullertontitans.com

AN ORANGE HOMECOMING: Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck returns to Orange County this week as the Bears play in the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic in Fullerton, Calif. A native of Coto de Caza, Calif., Beck was a standout for the San Clemente High School volleyball team, earning 2005 Mizuno High School All-American status and establishing single-season school records, with 544 kills, and hitting .497 as a senior. She also set SCHS single-match records by posting 39 kills once and serving up 11 aces another time. The Tritons are also in action this weekend, participating in the Dave Mohs Tournament.

LAST WEEK: Cal traveled to the Midwest for the 2008 Diet Coke Classic Volleyball Tournament hosted by Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. Heading in with a No. 4 ranking, the Bears were ambushed by a strong No. 11 Minnesota team and taken for a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) on the first night of play. Despite a double-double performance (14 kills, 12 digs) by junior outside hitter Hana Cutura, the Bears were unable to overcome the Golden Gopher block and finished with their lowest hitting percentage in a match this season (.124) getting 42 kills (27e) on 121 attacks. Cal came out strong on day two and got a 25-17 first-set win against Notre Dame but the Fighting Irish beat back the Bears by winning set two and three (25-21, 25-20). On the brink of a two-match losing streak, the Bears gutted out a 25-23 win to force a fifth set with the Irish. Last season, Cal came back from down 2-0 in the set count to win against Notre Dame at Santa Clara, Calif. and this time, the Bears did it again by coming away with a 16-14 score in the fifth and deciding set. Cutura led all players with 25 kills (7e, 42att) and hit .429 to spur the Cal comeback. Four players hit double digits in digs for the Bears including sophomore setter Carli Lloyd, who posted a double-double with her season-high 56 assists. Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley also set a career-high mark with 11 kills and 19 attacks (3e, .421). On the last day of the tournament, the Bears faced No. 16 Cal Poly and split the first two sets with the Mustangs. After settling down, Cal took the third set by a nine-point margin (25-16) and completed the win with a 25-21 fourth-set score. The Bears out-hit their opponents (.248 to .206) for the seventh time this season and for a seventh time, claimed the match victory. Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon helped push along the Bear attack by putting up a season-high 11 kills on just 17 attacks with one error (.588) and didn't even play in the fourth set. Cutura led all players once more, getting 15 kills (7e, 41att, .195) and was named to the all-tournament team along with Lloyd.

CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE NOTES: The Blue Demons come west on the short end of a three-match losing streak and have lost five of their last six since opening the season with two wins against Bucknell (3-0) and Iona (3-2). CCSU sophomore All-NEC outside hitter Lauren Snyder's 4.00 kps average (.186) leads the team while her 68 digs rank second on the team to sophomore libero Kaitlin Petrella's 3.44 dps (110 digs). At the net, the Demons' middle blocker duo of junior All-NEC Jamie Baumert and sophomore Tori Vaughan hold down the fort. Baumert leads the team with 28 total blocks (0.88 bps) and Vaughan is right behind her with 22 (0.69 bps). Since the arrival of ninth-year head coach Linda Sagnelli, the Demons have posted eight-consecutive seasons with double-digits in the win column including the second-best mark in school history with 23 wins last year. This is the first meeting between Cal and Central Connecticut State.

SAN FRANCISCO NOTES: Just as they were in 2007, the Dons are 6-3 after nine matches. San Francisco comes into the weekend looking to bounce back after having a five-match winning streak snapped at the hands of Miami in a 3-2 loss. The Dons' sophomore opposite hitter Sarah Mandala leads the team in kills with 125 and is third in blocks, averaging 0.59 bps. Not far behind Mandala is senior middle blocker Carly Babin, who has 100 kills (2.94 kps). Junior libero Haley Carroll was the 2007 West Coast Conference Defender of the Year and leads the team this season with a 4.71 dps average, and 160 total digs. The Bears have never lost to San Francisco, holding a spotless 33-0 record over the Dons dating back to the first meeting on Oct. 18, 1977.

CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTES: The Titans are 4-6 heading into their tournament, coming off wins against Texas A&M (3-0) and Southern Mississippi (3-1). Prior to the short two-match winning streak, Cal State Fullerton sustained all six of its current losses in a row, albeit falling to three top-20 teams in Wisconsin, UCLA and San Diego. The Titans are led by sophomore middle blocker Erin Saddler's 108 kills (3.18 kps). Saddler is hitting .312 on the year (30e, 250att) has also notched 15 total blocks this season. Sophomore setter Genie Francisco pushes the pace for Fullerton with her 332 assists this season (9.76 aps) and sophomore defensive specialist Cami Croteau leads the team in digs (127) with a 3.74 dps. Cal is 5-1 all-time against Cal State Fullerton, with the Titans claiming a 3-1 victory at the last meeting in Fullerton, Calif. on Sept. 14, 1991.LLOYD NAMED PAC-10 VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd was named the Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 23-Aug. 31 after earning honors as the Outstanding Setter and MVP of the Cal Molten Classic. Lloyd posted 66 assists in two matches (11.0 aps) and added eight kills without an error, 10 digs and five blocks. The award is the first for a Cal player since Angie Pressey received it for the week of Aug. 28, 2006. It is the first such honor for Lloyd and the 23rd for Cal. The Bonsall, Calif. native later received Outstanding Setter and MVP honors at the Golden Bear Invitational and earned a spot on the Diet Coke Classic all-tournament team.

IN THE RANKS: Cal's No. 5 preseason ranking in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll marks the eighth time in school history that the Bears have been ranked to open a season; the sixth time since Rich Feller became head coach in 1999. The Bears were ranked No. 12 at the start of 2007, No. 17 to open 2006, No. 19 in 2005, No. 10 in 2004 and No. 24 in 2003. Cal's two other preseason rankings came in 1989 (No. 9) and 1983 (No. 12). Setting a program-best mark in 2007, the Bears finished the season in the No. 4 spot after reaching the NCAA national semifinal, where they fell 3-0 to eventual NCAA champion Penn State. Cal's No. 4 ranking during the week of Sept. 8-15, 2008, is the highest regular season ranking the team has received. Since 1982, the Bears have been ranked a total of 118 times.

2008 SCHEDULE: Cal will once again compete in what is arguably the most challenging collegiate women's volleyball conference in the nation - the Pacific-10. The Bears' 2008 schedule includes seven teams ranked in the CBS/AVCA preseason top 25 poll. St. John's and Arizona are among teams that also received votes in the initial poll. Five of the seven ranked teams are from the Pac-10, setting the Bears up for what looks to be at least 12 matches against top-25 ranked teams.

BEARS IN TV LAND: Cal is scheduled to appear live in five televised matches this season. The Bears' first live broadcast will originate from Haas Pavilion at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 as they face Arizona State on Comcast Sports Net West. Fox Sports Net will show the Big Spike at Stanford on Oct. 19 (12:30 p.m. PT) and Comcast will show the Big Spike at Cal on Nov. 14 (7 p.m.). Comcast's crew will haunt the Haas sidelines on Halloween night (Oct. 31) as the Bears take on Washington State. And finally, USC's visit to Haas Pavilion on Nov. 22 will be carried by Fox Sports Net (5 p.m. PT) immediately following the Cal vs. Stanford football game.

THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE: The Pac-10 is home to six teams ranked in the most recent CBS/AVCA top 25 poll. Topping the list is No. 4 UCLA with No. 5 USC right behind them. 2007 NCAA runner-up Stanford checks in at No. 7 and Cal sits currently at No. 9. Right behind the Bears, Washington holds the No. 10 position and Oregon is the last to be listed at No. 12. Additionally, Arizona received votes in the most recent poll.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH: Cal will benefit from the leadership of three captains this season. Seniors Kat Reilly, Morgan Beck and Am'ra Solomon will each take the roll of co-team captain for 2008. Reilly brings her experience as the president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Council to the court while Beck carries three years of on-court familiarity. Solomon's passion for the game and the team are apparent when she takes the court, often leading the team in cheers.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCE: The Bears return several weapons at the outside hitter position in 2008, including All-American junior Hana Cutura. Cutura leads the team in total kills with 110 (36e, 220att, .336) and kills per set (4.23 kps). She also does her share of work on defense, picking up 58 digs thus far (2.23 dps). Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has logged 58 kills (2.32 kps) and 22 total blocks (0.88 bps) after earning All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2007. Senior Am'ra Solomon has put down 54 kills (2.35 kps) with a .287 attack percentage (15e, 136att). Solomon netted 80 kills (2.58 kps) a year ago in limited action. The Bears also add freshman Tarah Murrey (43k, 18e, 85att, .294) to the lineup this season.

MIDDLE METTLE: In her final season with the Bears, senior middle hitter Kat Reilly will serve as one of three team captains. Reilly appeared in just 85 sets last year, protecting her knee after recovering from an injury sustained as a freshman. Last season, Reilly logged 147 kills and hit for .325 (44e, 317att), the sixth-best single season output by a Bear. She also ranked second on the team a year ago with a 1.36 bps average, putting up a total of 116 blocks. This season, Reilly has logged 18 kills (0.90 kps) in limited time (11e, 60att, .117) and 19 total blocks (0.95 bps).

DIGGING DEEP: Junior defensive specialist/libero Kristen Kathan sits sixth among Pac-10 players in digs per set with 3.74 dps (101 in 27 sets). Last year, Kathan registered the ninth-best single-season mark for digs at Cal as a sophomore with 414 (3.70 dps). Kathan had a career-high 29 digs at USC, Oct. 26, and her digs per set average was good for ninth-best among Pac-10 players last season. This season, Kathan put up a season high 23 balls against Cal Poly Sept. 14, 2008.

SETTING THE SCENE: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 11.56 aps (312 assists), second in the Pac-10, but more importantly, has the Bears on top of the conference with a 13.30 aps mark. A 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, Lloyd posted 1,550 assists (12.81 dps) last year, and earned NCAA Wisconsin Regional all-tournament team status for her impressive postseason play. In addition to setting her teammates up, Lloyd also put down 93 kills and added 111 total blocks as a freshman. Lloyd's 1,862 assists is already good for sixth among all-time career leaders at Cal.

WILD AND WILEY: Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is attacking at a .250 clip (46k, 20e, 104att). She put up a career high 11 kills and 19 attacks against Notre Dame Sept. 13 and posted a career-high three solo blocks against UC Riverside Sept. 6. She has also reached a career-high seven total blocks on two occasions this season. Wiley had Cal's eighth-best single season output for hitting percentage in 2007, registering a mark of .307 (85k, 30e, 179att). Wiley shared time in the middle with since-departed Ellen Orchard and senior Kat Reilly but still managed to average 1.52 kps and put up 74 total blocks (1.32 bps) as a sophomore.

FRESH FACES: The Bears welcome five newcomers to the team this year. Topping the list is phenom outside hitter Tarah Murrey. Murrey comes to Cal as one of 2007's most highly sought-after high school recruits in the country. Her impressive resume includes Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 honors and recognition as the 2008 Gatorade California Player of the Year. Also a Fab 50 selection, freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari looks to step in and battle for immediate playing time. Joining Murrey and Hawari in the freshman class are setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe, setter Kristin Obermeyer and defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman.

ADVENTURES WITH AM'RA: Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon will be authoring a photo-journal during each of Cal's road trips this season. The pictorial essays will be a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Golden Bears and will receive updates the Monday following each road trip. Be sure to check the volleyball home page on CalBears.com for the latest shots off of Am'ra's camera.

NATIONAL BECKONING: Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck spent the 2008 spring semester away from the Berkeley campus to be with the USA Women's Indoor Volleyball team in Colorado Springs, Colo. Along with since-departed Angie Pressey, Beck trained with the team under the direction of head coach 'Jenny' Lang Ping. This summer, the USA Women's Indoor Volleyball team won the silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

PRESIDENTIAL PRECEDENCE: Senior middle hitter Kat Reilly serves as president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). 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.

PASSING ON PIROUETTES: Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, junior outside hitter Hana Cutura wasn't always the menacing volleyball force the Bears have come to know. The 6-4 outside hitter used to be a ballet dancer as a young girl but her natural gift for volleyball eventually shoved Nutcracker dreams aside. Last year, Cutura's play in the postseason earned her honors as the NCAA Wisconsin Regional MVP, an achievement her parents are quite proud of. Cutura's father, Zoran is a former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia while her mother, Gordana, is a former member of the Croatian National Volleyball team.

CALIFORNIA GLADIATOR: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd credits her athleticism to the training she received from uncle and coach Galen Tomlinson. Tomlinson, a former volleyball coach at Fallbrook Union High School, is better known in some circles as Turbo from the 1980's television series, 'American Gladiators.'

FAMILY TRACK RECORD: Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Meagan Schmitt seems destined to have become a Cal athlete. Both her parents, Tom and Laura attended Cal and were cross country and track and field athletes for the Bears. Her uncle, John Starrett also starred as a rower for the Bears.

TEXAS TWO-STEP: The Cal roster will once again feature two players from the great state of Texas. With the departure of Ellen Orchard (Houston, Texas), the Bears added another middle hitter in freshman Shannon Hawari to the lineup. Hawari arrives in Berkeley from Plano, Texas, a former player at Plano West High School. Hawari joins senior Kat Reilly, who comes from Plano East High School.

SISTER, SISTER: Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey comes from a family of athletes, one of which is older sister, Brittney. The elder Murrey is the starting setter for UC Riverside. Cal faced the Highlanders in what became a family affair at Haas Pavilion on Sept. 6 in the Golden Bear Invitational. Youth beat out experience as Cal's Murrey helped the Bears to a 3-0 win to close out the tournament crown.

STORMIN' GORMANS: Freshman defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman's older brother Richard is a junior designated hitter on the Cal baseball team.

McSHANE THE TRAIN: This past June, assistant coach Matt McShane joined over 2,800 bike riders on a seven-day, 545-mile trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles as a part of the 2008 AIDS/LifeCycle Ride benefiting HIV/AIDS services. Founded in 2002, AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and is designed to advance their shared interests to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by AIDS through raising funds and social awareness. In 2008, the ride raised over $11.6 million dollars.

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