No. 5 California and No. 4 Stanford to Clash in Big Spike on the Farm

Oct. 13, 2008

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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The No. 5-ranked California volleyball team and No. 4 Stanford battle for Pac-10 supremacy this weekend as the two remaining undefeated conference teams face off in the first Big Spike on the Farm. The Golden Bears put their 11-match (29 set) winning streak on the line against the Cardinal (also on an 11-match streak) with the winner claiming sole possession of first place in the conference. Both teams are coming off dominating 3-0 wins over desert visitors Arizona and Arizona State entering the 68th all-time meeting between the schools. Cal is looking for revenge after falling to the Cardinal in a 3-2 decision to close out the 2007 regular season. The Bears were up 14-12 in the fifth and final set before succumbing to the Stanford rush, falling 16-14 at Maples. Cal is off to its best start since the 2003 squad carried momentum gained from a 16-1 start to the school's first appearance in the NCAA round of 16. These Bears have reeled off a school-record 29 straight sets and own the second longest winning streak in school history with 11 consecutive victories.

THE FACTS: No. 5 Cal (16-1, 6-0 Pac-10) meets No. 4 Stanford (15-2, 6-0 Pac-10) in the first of two Big Spike matches, Sunday, Oct. 19, 12:30 p.m. at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif. Fox Sports Net will broadcast the match live with Paul Sunderland calling the action from courtside joined by color commentators Karch Kiraly and Holly McPeak. Live statistics will be available via Gametracker links on

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 122 times.

NO. 4 STANFORD NOTES: The Cardinal (15-2, 6-0 Pac-10) enter the weekend riding the momentum of an 11-match winning streak, last falling in a 3-1 upset at St. Louis on Sept. 6. Stanford is the winner of 33 of its last 34 sets and holds a perfect 7-0 record at Maples Pavilion this fall. The Cardinal roster features two players who were named Pac-10 Player of the Week this season including senior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Sept. 8) and sophomore outside hitter Alix Klineman (Sept. 15). Akinradewo is fourth in the country in hitting percentage with a .452 attack rate and seventh in blocks per set, averaging 1.47 bps. Her numbers are tops in the Pac-10 in both categories. Klineman leads the team in kills with a 3.42 kps average and is ninth in the conference in attack percentage (.333). The Cardinal lead the conference in both hitting percentage (.331, third NCAA) and opponent hitting percentage (.141) with Cal just behind at second in both categories. On the flip side, Cal leads the conference in assists (13.91) and kills (15.04) with Stanford in second place in both categories (13.20 aps, 14.16 kps). Sophomore libero Gabi Ailes leads the team in digs with a 3.91 dps average and has collected 10 service aces this season. The Bears trail 61-6 in the all-time series.

LAST WEEK: Cal returned home to Haas Pavilion and claimed its ninth consecutive sweep of an opponent to run the home winning streak to a school record 16 straight. The Bears got a 3-0 victory (25-16, 25-12, 25-21) over Arizona State first, led by junior outside hitter Hana Cutura and her 14 kills on 28 attacks (6e, .286) and three service aces. Cal held the Sun Devils to 21 kills with 16 errors on 86 attacks; a .058 attack rate. Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley led the Bears with six blocks (one solo) and poured in six kills of her own along with the first two service aces of her career. Junior libero Kristen Kathan led all players with 14 digs and had two service aces of her own. Next, the Bears took on a resurgent Arizona team and made short work of the Wildcat attack as well, tacking up a 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 win. Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey dropped a career high 11 kills (5e, 21att, .286) on the `Cats and added three blocks to her stat line. Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd posted a double-double outing against Arizona, getting 11 digs to go with her match-high 36 assists. With 13 kills in the match, Cutura moved into a ninth-place tie at 1,113 with Jenna Brown (2002-05) on the Cal all-time kills list. When the weekend dust settled, the Bears posted a better hitting percentage and more kills than their opponents for the 16th time this season. Cal has been victorious in all 16 instances.

BEARS IN TV LAND: Cal is scheduled to appear live in five televised matches this season. 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 Bears are 2-0 in televised matches this season.

THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE: Cal will once again compete in what is arguably the toughest women's collegiate volleyball conference, the Pac-10. Seven teams ranked in the most recent CBS/AVCA top 25 poll reside in the Pac-10 with six in the top 11. 2007 NCAA runner-up Stanford tops the list at No. 4. Cal checks in at No. 5, followed by No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Washington. UCLA sits at No. 10 and USC holds down the No. 11 position. Oregon State made its first appearance in the polls since 1996 last week and checks in at No. 25 this week with a 12-6 record. Arizona made its first appearance in the top 25 two weeks ago, but fell out after a loss and currently holds the mythical No. 31 position. With Cal Poly (No. 26), and Minnesota (No. 12) also cracking the lineup, and St. John's holding a position earlier this year, the Bears have the opportunity to face at least 15 top-25 ranked opponents before the season is over.

DIG FOR THE CURE: During the month of October, Pac-10 volleyball teams will join forces to help raise awareness about breast cancer during home matches. Among the promotional events planned, teams will wear pink accessories, pink game balls will be used for the match and pink mini volleyballs will be tossed into the stands. The Bears held Dig for the Cure on Oct. 10 when it hosted Arizona State at Haas Pavilion. On the road, Cal will also be part of other Breast Cancer Awareness Month matches when it visits Stanford (Oct. 19), USC (Oct. 25), and UCLA (Oct. 26).

SUPER STREAK, SUPER STREAK: Cal's currently active 29 straight sets without a loss is a new school record, breaking the old record of 27 held by the 2002 squad as it opened the season with a 9-0 record. The Bears' current 11-match winning streak is the second longest streak in school history. Cal has won 16 consecutive matches (dating back to Oct. 11, 2007) at Haas Pavilion, also a new school record.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH: Cal will benefit from the leadership of three captains this season. Seniors Kat Reilly, Morgan Beck and Am'ra Solomon each holds 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 returned several weapons at the outside hitter position from a squad that made an appearance in the NCAA semifinal, including All-American junior Hana Cutura. Cutura leads the team in total kills with 236 (66e, 467att, .364) and kills per set (4.45 kps). She also does her share of work on defense, picking up 124 digs thus far (2.34 dps). Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has logged 95 kills (2.32 kps) and 28 total blocks (0.68 bps) after earning All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2007. Senior Am'ra Solomon has put down 129 kills (2.87 kps, second on the team) with a .306 attack percentage (36e, 304att). Solomon netted 80 kills (2.58 kps) a year ago in limited action. The Bears also added the services of freshman Tarah Murrey (107k, 46e, 238att, .256) to the lineup this season.

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.

NATIONAL N' THEM: The Bears hold several distinctions among the country's top teams including the No. 3 position in assists with 13.91 aps. Penn State leads all teams with a 14.19 aps average. As a byproduct, the Bears rank third in the country in kills with 15.04 kps. Likewise, Penn State also leads this category with 15.15 kps. Cal's .324 hitting percentage ranks fourth in the country behind Pac-10 leader, Stanford (.331) and NCAA leader, Penn State at No. 1 (.401). Defensively, the Bears are averaging 2.55 bps, 30th among NCAA division I teams; one of five Pac-10 teams in the top 30 in that statistical category.

1,000K CLUB: Two Golden Bears have surpassed the 1,000 kill mark in their careers. Junior outside hitter Hana Cutura was the first to do so, hitting the 1,000 kill milestone on the head against Central Connecticut State Sept. 19 at the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic in Fullerton, Calif. Cutura is tied for ninth in all-time career kills at Cal with 1,113 (Jenna Brown, 2002-05) and will likely threaten the seventh-place position before the season is over. Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck got her 1,000th kill against Oregon State Sept. 28. Beck now has 1,008 career kills and holds the ninth-place spot all-time at Cal in total blocks with 324.

HOME, SWEET, HOME: There's no place like home and these Bears don't come to Haas Pavilion to hibernate. Cal has successfully defended its home court advantage in the past 16 matches; a school-record run that dates back to a 3-2 win over Washington on Oct. 11, 2007. The longest home winning streak prior to the current one lasted 13 matches from Oct. 28, 2005 through Oct. 19, 2006.

#1: SETTING THE SCENE: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 11.94 aps (645 assists), tops in the Pac-10, but more importantly, she has the Bears on top of the conference with a 13.91 aps mark (third in the country). 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 broke the 2,000 assist mark against Oregon on Sept. 26, becoming just the sixth player in Cal history to break that plateau. Her 2,195 assists is already good for sixth among all-time career leaders at Cal. Lloyd's stellar play has netted her all-tournament honors in all four of Cal's preseason tourney's including two MVP awards (Cal Molten Classic and Golden Bear Invitational) and the Pac-10 Player of the Week award.

#1: 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.'

#1: 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.

#2: DIGGING DEEP: Junior defensive specialist/libero Kristen Kathan sits in sixth-place among Pac-10 players in digs per set with 4.02 dps (217 in 54 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 and logged her 700th career dig against Oregon State Sept. 28.

#3: 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.

#4: 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.

#7: ROE, ROE, ROE YOUR BOAT: Freshman setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe lists writing poetry and lyrics as one of her favorite off-court activities. She can often be heard singing ad-lib lyrics to familiar melodies. She has appeared in three matches for the Bears, logging a service ace on her first collegiate play against Minnesota (Sept. 12) and logged her first career assist on a kill from Hana Cutura against Central Connecticut State Sept. 19.

#8: 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 are a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Golden Bears and will receive updates the Monday following each road trip. Solomon celebrated her second road-trip of the year with a spot on the Crowne Plaza All-Tournament team. Be sure to check the volleyball home page on for the latest shots off of Am'ra's camera.

#8: SHE AM WHAT SHE AM: Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon has been quietly becoming one of the Bears' go-to players on the outside. Her 2.87 kills per set are good for second on the team behind just Pac-10 leader junior Hana Cutura. Solomon's sure hand has netted her a .306 attack percentage (129k, 36e, 304att). She also set career high numbers in digs and blocks this season, playing in a heavily saturated front row.

#9: OBI WAN KENOBERMEYER: Freshman setter Kristin Obermeyer might not be able to play any Jedi mind-tricks on opponents but she has the resume to prove her academic aptitude as one of the valedictorians at Westmont High School in Campbell, Calif. She has appeared in three matches for Cal and had her first assist against DePaul Sept. 6; she later logged a career-high five assists against Central Connecticut State Sept. 19 at the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic in Fullerton, Calif.

#10: 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 22 kills (0.85 kps) in limited time (13e, 70att, .129) and 22 total blocks (0.85 bps).

#10: 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.

#14: 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.

#14: NO HAWARIAN ISLAND VACATION: Freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari has worked her way into the California starting lineup, logging 61 kills on 123 attacks with just nine errors all season. Her .423 attack percentage is second-best among all Pac-10 players. She has also racked up a total of 38 blocks (0.97 bps), second on the team. When she does decide to take a break, she would like to vacation to Paris, France.

#17: STORMIN' GORMANS: Freshman defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman's older brother Richard is a junior designated hitter on the Cal baseball team. With 14 home volleyball matches and 30 home baseball games, Golden Bear sports will be a family affair for the Gorman household. Gorman has appeared in seven of Cal's matches this year, recording her first digs in a match at Cal State Fullerton Sept. 20.

#21: WILD AND WILEY: Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is attacking at a .346 clip (106k, 33e, 211att). 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 also recorded a career-high eight total blocks twice this season, first against San Francisco Sept. 20 and again against Oregon Sept. 26. Wiley's first service aces of her career came against Arizona (Oct. 11) and Arizona State (Oct. 10) 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.

#26: 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.

#26: SUPER HANA: Junior outside hitter Hana Cutura leads the Pac-10 in kills per set with a 4.45 kps average but is also an astonishing sixth in the conference with a .364 attack percentage, the highest of any outside hitter in the Pac-10. She has also contributed to the Cal defense by putting in 2.34 digs per set. Her 5.17 points per set is tops in the conference and is far outpacing Oregon's Gorana Maricic's 4.69 pps. Cutura also leads the Bears in service aces with 23 on the season.

#44: 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. Schmitt put up a career-high eight digs against Arizona on Oct. 11 after making her second consecutive start.

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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