No. 8 California Faces No. 14 Illinois in NCAA Regional Semifinal
Dec. 8, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. - This Week:Rec Hall | State College, Pa.
NCAA University Park Regional Semifinalvs. No. 14 IllinoisFriday, Dec. 12 3:30 p.m. ETGametracker and Video at www.gopsusports.com
NCAA University Park Regional Finalvs. Western Michigan / at No. 1 Penn StateSaturday, Dec. 13 4 p.m. ETESPNU
After making short work of first and second round opponents, the Golden Bears head to State College, Pa. for their third consecutive NCAA tournament regional semifinal with a shot at revenge on their minds. As one of 16 remaining teams in the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, Cal will face No. 14 Illinois in one regional semifinal match for the right to take on defending champion No. 1 Penn State in the regional final. The Bears fell to the Nittany Lions in the national championship semifinal a year ago and would like nothing better than to knock off undefeated Penn State. But first, Cal must get through an Illini squad that finished third in the Big Ten conference and which has won its last seven matches heading into the weekend. After hitting a rough patch in the season, the Bears have since won five of their last six and are in position to clinch Cal's best record in school history.
THE FACTS: No. 8 Cal (25-6, 13-5 Pac-10) earned the right to advance to the University Park Regional Semifinal of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship with wins over Siena College and New Mexico State last weekend. The Bears will face No. 14 Illinois (26-7, 15-5 Big Ten) in a 12:30 p.m. PT match on Friday, Dec. 12 at the Rec Hall in State College, Pa. No. 1 Penn State (34-0, 20-0 Big Ten) draws Western Michigan (28-6, 14-2 MAC) in the other semifinal match at 3 p.m. PT, Dec. 12. The winners of each match will play in the University Park Regional Championship Match on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. PT. The final will be broadcast live by ESPNU with Beth Mowins calling the action and Karch Kiraly providing color commentary. Live statistics and streaming video links for the two semifinal matches can be found at www.gopsusports.com.
TICKETS: All-session tickets for all three matches are on sale now and are $16 for adults and $10 for youth and students. Single-session tickets will be available at Rec Hall the day of the match only and are $10 for adults, $7 for youth and students and $4 per person in groups of 20 or more, any age. All seating is general admission. Call the Penn State ticket office for more information or to order tickets at (814) 865-5555.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Cal made a school-record seventh straight appearance in the NCAA championship tournament this season; 12th overall. Cal advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in 2003 with two 3-0 victories over Saint Mary's and Michigan. The Bears went 1-1 in the postseason in 2004 and 2005 before advancing to the round of 16 once again in 2006 where it fell to eventual NCAA runner-up Stanford. Last year, Cal set a new school record by advancing past the round of 16 to face defending NCAA champion Nebraska in the Wisconsin Regional Championship. There, it defeated the Cornhuskers, 3-0, to earn a spot in the national semifinal match. The Bears fell in a sweep to 2007 NCAA champion Penn State in Sacramento, Calif. Cal has also made postseason appearances in the AIAW (1981) and NIVC (1991) tournaments and owns a 20-15 record in all postseason matches, 16-11 in the NCAA tournament.
FELLER FOCUS: Cal head volleyball coach Rich Feller leads the Bears into the NCAA tournament for the seventh consecutive year. In his 10th season at Berkeley, Feller has a 13-6 NCAA championship record with Cal and has guided his Bears to victory in all six of their first round matches. Overall, Feller is 18-14 in postseason matches including five wins while at Colorado State and has now taken his team to the regional semifinal three straight years.
LAST WEEK: The Bears opened up postseason play in the comforting confines of Haas Pavilion, hosting Siena College, Saint Mary's College and New Mexico State. Cal brushed aside the Saints in the first round with a 25-18, 25-10, 25-20 sweep, marking the seventh straight season in which Cal has advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament. Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey led the team with 11 kills (7e, 26att, .154) with junior outside hitter Hana Cutura in tow with 10 kills of her own (3e, 21att, .333). The Bears attacked efficiently, getting 48 kills on 86 attacks (13e) to post a .407 attack percentage. Siena College outside hitter Burgandy McCurty led all players with 16 kills (6e, 26att, .385) but it was not enough as the Bears sent the Saints packing. Siena College has not won a single set in NCAA tournament play in five all-time appearances and has fallen to the eventual national champion in two of the last three years. The next night, Cal took on New Mexico State, the co-champions of the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies defeated Saint Mary's College to advance to the second round. This time, the Bears needed four sets to get the victory (25-23, 25-13, 21-25, 25-17), maintaining a strong offense, but adding a formidable defense at the net. Cal set a season-high mark in blocks as it posted 17.5 total team blocks and forced the Aggies into a .107 attack rate for the match (48k, 35e, 122att). The Bears attacked at a .310 rate, getting 51 kills on 113 attempts (16e). Cutura led all players with 16 kills this time (5e, 35att, .314). Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley and senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon each had 13 kills apiece while sophomore setter Carli Lloyd led all players with 45 assists. New Mexico State outside hitter Lindsey Yon led her team with 11 kills and 11 digs. The victory over the Aggies sent Cal to a school-record third consecutive round of 16 appearance in the NCAA tourney.
NO. 14 ILLINOIS NOTES: The Illini (26-7, 15-5 Big Ten) defeated Milwaukee and Cincinnati in the first and second rounds of the NCAA championships to arrive at the University Park Regional. Illinois has won its last seven matches (13 of last 15) and is currently riding the momentum of a 13-set win streak. The Illini finished third in the Big Ten conference with just five losses; four of which came at the hands of No. 1 Penn State and second-place Minnesota. Illinois is led by sophomore outside hitter Laura DeBruier who averages 4/63 kps and is second on the team with 3.02 dps. The Illini run a 6-2 offense that features the talents of two setters, sophomore Hilary Haen (6.74 aps) and senior Lizzie Bazzetta (5.10 aps). Both setters average more than two digs per set as well. Defensively, the Illini rely on sophomore middle blocker Johannah Bangert who averages 1.62 bps and has amassed 199 total blocks this season. The Bears are winless in two tries against the Illini, falling in four sets in 1985; and three sets in 1991.
NO. 1 PENN STATE NOTES: The Nittany Lions (34-0, 20-0 Big Ten) have not lost a single set of play this season and are favored by many experts to repeat as NCAA champions. Penn State leads the nation in blocks (3.26 bps) and hitting percentage (.404) and are among the top-10 in every statistical category. The Lions defeated a couple of repeat opponents as it hosted first and second round matches; dropping Long Island in the first round before knocking Yale out of the tournament. Penn State is led by junior outside hitter Megan Hodge who puts up 3.99 kps while attacking at a .341 rate. Hodge is also second on the team in digs (2.00 dps) and has 44 blocks this season. Senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett averages 3.79 kps and has 78 blocks to go with 187 digs. Junior setter Alisha Glass leads the nation in assists, putting up 12.40 aps. Glass is also third on the team in blocks with a 1.00 bps average (102 blocks). Last season's meeting in the NCAA semifinal was the first and only meeting between Cal and Penn State.
WESTERN MICHIGAN NOTES: The Broncos (28-6, 14-2 MAC) advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in 21 years after they upset 16th-seeded Tulane in the second round, 3-2. Western Michigan tacked up a 3-1 victory over host Dayton to open tournament play before earning the trip to State College, Pa. The Broncos were the regular season champions of the Mid-American Conference with a 14-2 record and are led by junior outside hitter Michelle Moore, who averages 3.92 kps and is third on the team in digs with 2.25 dps. Junior setter Jillian Mitchell puts up 11.48 aps and is second on the team in service aces with 28 this season. Junior outside hitter Katie Eberling trailed Moore but has put up 351 kills this season to average 2.79 kps. The Bears and the Broncos have never faced each other.
CUTURA AND LLOYD EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS: The Pacific-10 conference announced its annual postseason honors on Dec. 1 with junior outside hitter Hana Cutura and sophomore setter Carli Lloyd receiving all-conference notice. While the award is a first for Lloyd, Cutura enjoys a repeat appearance after making the all-conference team last season. Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon and junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley received honorable mention notice while outside hitter Tarah Murrey and middle hitter Shannon Hawari were each selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.
GOT FIVE ON IT: Five Bears earned Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention this season including seniors Am'ra Solomon and Kat Reilly, juniors Kristen Kathan and Mindi Wiley; and sophomore Carli Lloyd. Solomon returned to the list of all-academic players after appearing in 2006. Kathan and Solomon made repeat appearances after earning honorable mention in 2007. Lloyd and Wiley were each first-time honorable mention.
POLL POSITION: Cal's No. 5 preseason ranking in the Bison/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll marked the eighth time in school history that the Bears were ranked to open a season; the sixth 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 highest regular season ranking was recorded several times this season as the Bears reached No. 4 for several weeks. Since 1982, the Bears have been ranked a total of 129 times.
BEARS IN TV LAND: Cal appeared live in five televised matches this season, the last of which was the USC match on Nov. 22, broadcast by Fox Sports Net. Comcast SportsNet California aired Cal's match against Stanford in the Big Spike on Nov. 14 and haunted the Haas sidelines on Halloween night (Oct. 31) as the Bears defeated Washington State, 3-1. Comcast also aired the Bears' Dig for the Cure match against Arizona State on Oct. 10. FSN showed Cal's historic 3-1 victory at Stanford (Oct. 19). Cal also appeared in a local telecast on the road at Washington Oct. 3. Cal is 5-1 in TV matches.SUPER STREAKS: Cal's streak of 29 straight sets without a loss between Sept. 14 and Oct. 19 set a new school record, breaking the old record of 27 held by the 2002 squad. The Bears also had the second-longest match winning streak in school history this season, winning 13 consecutive matches between Sept. 13 and Oct. 24. In addition, Cal set a new school record by winning eight consecutive Pac-10 matches. This Cal team also owns the record for most consecutive matches won at home, 16 (from Oct. 11, 2007 through Oct. 31, 2008).
RACKIN' UP THE REWARDS: Several Cal players received recognition for their outstanding play in preseason tournaments this year; at the Cal Molten Classic, sophomore setter Carli Lloyd took home MVP honors, joined by junior libero Kristen Kathan as the defensive standout and junior outside hitter Hana Cutura on the all-tournament team. At the Golden Bear Invitational, Lloyd once again garnered MVP honors while Kathan repeated as the defensive standout. This time, the pair was joined not only by Cutura, but senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck and junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley. At the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., Lloyd and Cutura earned spots on the all-tournament team. And at the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic in Fullerton, Calif., Cutura took home MVP honors, joined by senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon and Lloyd on the all-tournament team.
THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE: Cal competed in what was arguably the toughest conference in women's collegiate volleyball, the Pac-10. Six teams ranked in the most recent Bison/AVCA top 25 poll reside in the Pac-10 conference with all six in the top 12. 2007 NCAA runner-up Stanford tops the group at No. 2 with Washington checking in at No. 5. Oregon sits at No. 7 followed by Cal at No. 8, No. 9 UCLA and No. 12 USC. Oregon State made its first appearance in the polls since 1996 earlier this year and Arizona maintained a spot in the top 25 for several weeks. Both have since exited the poll. With San Francisco (No. 25), Cal Poly, and Minnesota (No. 10) also cracking the lineup, and St. John's holding a position earlier this year, the Bears have faced 16 teams that either currently are or at one point were ranked in the top 25.
DIG FOR THE CURE: During the month of October, Pac-10 volleyball teams joined forces to help raise awareness about breast cancer during home matches. Among the promotional events, teams wore pink accessories, used pink game balls for the matches and tossed pink mini volleyballs 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 also participated in 'Pink' matches when it visited Stanford (Oct. 19), UCLA (Oct. 24), and USC (Oct. 25).
BEARS IN THE PAC-10 RANKS: Cal ranked in the top five in six statistical categories in the Pac-10 this season. The Bears lead the conference in kills (14.95 kps) and are tied for the conference lead in assists (13.87 aps). Cal is second in opponent hitting percentage (.177) and tied for third in hitting percentage (.290). Cal is third in service aces (1.16 saps) and tied for third in blocks (2.59 bps). Individually, junior outside hitter Hana Cutura is second in the conference in kills (4.42 kps) and first in points (5.06 pps). She is third in service aces (0.30 saps). Junior libero Kristen Kathan ranks fourth in digs (4.32 dps) and fifth in service aces (0.28). Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is second in assists with 12.04 aps. Freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari (.389) is fifth in the conference in hitting percentage and junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is sixth (.341).
NATIONAL N' THEM: The Bears hold several distinctions among the country's top teams including third in assists with 13.87 aps. As a byproduct, the Bears also rank third in the country in kills with 14.95 kps. Valparaiso leads all teams with a 15.32 kps average. Cal's .290 hitting percentage ranks seventh in the country behind Pac-10 leaders, Stanford (.319), Washington (.294) and NCAA leader, Penn State at No. 1 (.404). Defensively, the Bears average 2.59 bps, 25th in the NCAA; one of six Pac-10 teams in the top 40 in that statistical category. Individually, sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is third in the country with 12.04 aps and junior outside Hana Cutura is 13th nationally in kills at 4.42 kps.
CAPTAIN CRUNCH: Cal had the benefit of leadership from three captains this season. Seniors Kat Reilly, Morgan Beck and Am'ra Solomon each held the roll of co-team captain in 2008. Reilly brought her experience as the president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Council to the court while Beck carried three years of on-court familiarity. Solomon's summer of growth with the USA A2 team coupled with her passion for the game and the team were apparent when she took the court, leading Cal 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 482 (160e, 1061att, .303) and kills per set (4.42 kps). She also does her share of work on defense, picking up 257 digs thus far (2.36 dps). Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has logged 108 kills (1.69 kps) and 30 total blocks (0.47 bps) despite playing a limited role due to injury. Beck earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2006 and 2007. Senior Am'ra Solomon has made huge contributions, putting down 301 kills (2.98 kps, second on the team) with a .299 attack percentage (84e, 726att). Solomon netted 80 kills (2.58 kps) a year ago in limited action. The Bears also added the services of freshman Tarah Murrey (258k, 123e, 609att, .222) to the lineup this season.
FRESH FACES: The Bears welcomed five newcomers to the team this year. Topping the list was phenom outside hitter Tarah Murrey. Murrey came to Cal as one of 2007's most highly sought-after high school recruits in the country. Her impressive resume included 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 stepped in and battled for immediate playing time. Joining Murrey and Hawari in the freshman class were setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe, setter Kristin Obermeyer and defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman.HOME, SWEET, HOME: There's no place like home and these Bears don't come to Haas Pavilion to hibernate. Cal successfully defended its home court advantage for a school-record 16 consecutive matches; a run that dated back to a 3-2 win over Washington on Oct. 11, 2007 and ended against with a loss to the Huskies on Nov. 2, 2008. The previous longest home winning streak lasted 13 matches from Oct. 28, 2005 through Oct. 19, 2006. This season, Cal went 12-2 in all matches at Haas Pavilion.
1,000K CLUB: Two Golden Bears surpassed the 1,000 kill mark in their careers this season. 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 fifth in all-time career kills at Cal with 1,359 and could threaten the fourth-place position before her season is over. Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck got her 1,000th kill against Oregon State Sept. 28. Beck now has 1,021 career kills and is ninth all-time at Cal in total blocks with 326.
MEET THE BEAR CUBS: Four prep volleyball players signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Golden Bears in 2009 during the early signing period (Nov. 12-19). Setter Elly Barrett (Westlake HS/Austin, Texas), middle blocker Katherine Brown (St. Francis HS/Mountain View, Calif.), middle blocker Tia Gaffen (Wayzata HS/Plymouth, Minn.) and middle blocker Correy Johnson (Lake Howell HS/Winter Park, Fla.). Barrett and Johnson were each honored with selections to the AVCA Under Armour High School All-American first team. Gaffen received second-team notice. All four players were PrepVolleyball.com Top 50 senior aces in 2008; Barrett was No. 12 (regarded as the top setter in the nation), Brown was No. 48, Gaffen was No. 47 and Johnson was No. 14.
#1: SETTING THE SCENE: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 12.04 aps (1,324 assists, ninth all-time single season record at Cal), second in the Pac-10 (third nationally), but more importantly, she has the Bears on top of the conference with a 13.87 aps mark (also third nationally). 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 2,874 assists are already good for fifth among all-time career leaders at Cal. Lloyd's stellar play 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), Pac-10 Player of the Week award twice and most recently, an AVCA National Player of the Week honor.
#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: TRIPLE PLAY: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week on Oct. 20, for her efforts in a 3-1 victory against Stanford, Oct. 19. She was also named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season for the week of Oct. 13-19, after earning honors for the week of Aug. 23-Aug. 31. In addition, Lloyd received the Cal Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week award to complete a trifecta of awards and honors. She is the first Cal player since Angie Pressey to receive Pac-10 (Aug. 28, 2006) and the first player since Mia Jerkov (2003) to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors twice in one season.
#2: DIGGING DEEP: Junior defensive specialist/libero Kristen Kathan sits in fourth place among Pac-10 players in digs per set with 4.32 dps (475 in 110 sets). Last year, Kathan registered the ninth-best single-season mark for digs at Cal as a sophomore with 414 (3.70 dps) and had a then career-high 29 digs at USC, Oct. 26, 2007. This season, Kathan put up a career-high 31 balls twice, at Oregon, Nov. 28 and has moved into the fourth-place position in single-season digs.
#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' Liang 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.
#4: TARAH-RIZING THE COURT: Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey has appeared in every match for the Bears, playing in 108 of 110 sets. She is third on the team in kills, averaging 2.39 kps and puts up 1.55 digs every set. The 6-3 El Cerrito, Calif. native has come of age in recent matches, earning career-high marks with 21 kills, 19 digs, and 50 attacks against UCLA on Nov. 21. Murrey received Pac-10 All-Freshman Team notice for her on-court efforts on Dec. 1.
#7: ROE, ROE, ROE YOUR BOAT: Freshman setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe lists writing poetry and lyrics among her favorite off-court activities. She can often be heard singing or rapping 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 CalBears.com for the latest shots off of Am'ra's camera.
#8: SHE AM WHAT SHE AM: Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon has quietly become one of the Bears' go-to players on the outside. Her 2.98 kps is second on the team behind team leader junior Hana Cutura. Solomon's sure hand has netted her a .299 attack percentage (301k, 84e, 726att). She set new career highs in attacks at UCLA Oct. 24, with 49; and recorded a new career-high in kills with 20 at Arizona Nov. 7. She also set career high numbers in digs and blocks this season, playing in a heavily saturated front row. Solomon earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention this season.
#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 served 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, slowed by injury, Reilly has logged 43 kills (0.77 kps) in limited time (21e, 133att, .165) and 54 total blocks (0.96 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 once again featured 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 arrived in Berkeley from Plano, Texas, a former player at Plano West High School. Hawari joins senior middle hitter Kat Reilly, who comes from Plano East High School.
#14: NO HAWARIAN ISLAND VACATION: Freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari worked her way into the California starting lineup, logging 113 kills on 229 attacks with just 24 errors all season. Her .389 attack percentage ranks fifth among all Pac-10 players. She has also racked up 63 blocks (0.84 bps), second on the team. Hawari had a breakout match at USC Oct. 25 where she tallied a career-high 15 kills on 22 attacks. She joined fellow frosh Tarah Murrey on the Pac-10 All-Freshman team this season. 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 16 home volleyball matches and 30 home baseball games, Golden Bear sports will be a family affair for the Gorman household. Gorman has appeared in 17 of Cal's matches this year, recording her first digs in a match at Cal State Fullerton Sept. 20 and a career-high three digs at USC on Oct. 25.
#21: WILD AND WILEY: Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is attacking at a .341 clip (sixth in the Pac-10, 242k, 79e, 478att). She put up a career-high 15 kills and 25 attacks at UCLA Oct. 24 (matched with 25 attacks vs. UCLA on Nov. 21) and posted a career-high three solo blocks against UC Riverside Sept. 6. She has also recorded a career-high eight total blocks three times this season, first against San Francisco Sept. 20 and again against Oregon Sept. 26 with the last time coming at Oregon on Nov. 28. The first service aces of Wiley's career came against Arizona (Oct. 11) and Arizona State (Oct. 10). She has since served for ace on 12 occasions. Wiley had Cal's eighth-best single season output for hitting percentage in 2007, registering a mark of .307 (85k, 30e, 179att). As a sophomore, 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).
#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 is second in the Pac-10 in kills per set with a 4.42 kps average. She also contributed to the Cal defense by putting in 2.36 digs per set. Her 5.06 points per set is tops in the conference and she leads the Bears in service aces with 33 (0.30, third in the Pac-10). Cutura's dominance at the net and presence in the back row have earned her 10 double-double matches this season. Cutura moved into fifth place for all-time career kills (1,359) and eighth place for all-time career attacks (3,172) this season and has already logged the ninth-best single-season mark for kills with 482. She is just seven aces from cracking the top 10 in that career category as well and was selected to the Pac-10 All-Conference team for the second consecutive 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 three service aces at Arizona Nov. 7 and later recorded a career-high 11 digs against UCLA on Nov. 21.
A FAMILIAR FOE: Cal's director of volleyball operations, Chelsea White, played volleyball for Iona College in 2004 and 2005. Iona competes in the same conference as Cal's first round opponent Siena College, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. She graduated with a degree in political science in 2006 and was a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Scholastic Honor Society with a 3.92 GPA. As the starting libero, White climbed the Iona career and single-season records ladder and remains fourth all-time in digs (1,210) and second in career digs per set (5.28 dps). She had the second and third highest total in a single season for digs in 2005 (612 digs) and 2004 (598 digs).
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.