Ninth-Seeded Cal Faces Lipscomb to Open NCAA Tournament

Dec. 3, 2009

BERKELEY - 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball ChampionshipFirst and Second RoundsSt. John Arena | Columbus, Ohio

vs. Lipscomb (28-3, 20-0 A-Sun) www.lipscombsports.comFriday, Dec. 4 6 p.m. ET

vs. Cincinnati (25-10) or at Ohio State (24-9)Saturday, Dec. 5 7 p.m. ET

The Golden Bears will be making their school-record eighth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance as they head to Columbus, Ohio, to face Atlantic Sun Conference champion Lipscomb in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. Cal has won all seven of its first-round matches under the direction of head coach Rich Feller and holds a 21-16 record in 13 trips to the postseason. The Bears received the ninth seed and were placed into the Gainesville (Fla.) regional where the top-seeded and No. 1-ranked defending champion Penn State will hold court. Cal has advanced to the regional semifinal in each of the last three seasons and went all the way to the national semifinal two years ago; the best finish in program history. As the newly anointed Pac-10 Player of the Year, senior outside hitter Hana Cutura looks to guide the Bears to yet another historic finish.

THE FACTS: The No. 10-ranked California volleyball team (18-10, 11-7 Pac-10, fourth) received its eighth-consecutive bid to the NCAA volleyball championships as the ninth-seed among the field of 64. The Golden Bears will take on Atlantic Sun Conference champion Lipscomb (28-3, 20-0 A-Sun, first) in the first round out of the Gainesville (Fla.) regional. The teams will face off in a 6 p.m. ET match on Friday, Dec. 4, at St. John Arena on the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The winner will draw the winner of the Ohio State (24-9, 12-8 Big 10, fourth) and Cincinnati (25-10, 12-2 Big East, second) match in the second round on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. ET.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Live stats and streaming video will be provided for all three first- and second-round matches at St. John Arena. The Ohio State University athletic communications department will be distributing a live video feed of each match via their website, www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Links to Gametracker statistics can be found at the Ohio State website or at www.CalBears.com. Fans can also receive set-score updates and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bears during the postseason by following CalVolleyball on www.twitter.com/calvolleyball.

CUTURA NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura was named the Pacific-10 Conference Volleyball Player of the Year on Monday, Nov. 30. The Zagreb, Croatia native received her third all-conference selection and became the first Golden Bear to earn Pac-10 player of the year honors. Cutura led the Pac-10 in kills (5.09 kps) and points (5.59 pps), and was rated 10th in hitting percentage (.313). She holds the school record for career kills with 1,931 and will finish no worse than third in all-time career attacks with 4,485. Cutura also ranks seventh at Cal in career service aces with 111. She owns three of Cal's top eight single-season records for kills and has 1,255 attacks this season to rank sixth on Cal's single-season attack records. Cutura received two Pac-10 Player of the Week awards this season and was selected as the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 27. Cal has had one other player earn conference player of the year honors; All-American middle blocker Sylvie Monnet (1980-83) was selected NorPac Conference Player of the Year in 1983 as a senior.

TICKETS: All-session tickets for both first round matches at 6 and 8 p.m. ET Friday and the second round match at 7 p.m. ET Saturday are $12 for adults. A student all-session ticket is $6 and a child's (3-12) all-session ticket is $4. Single-session adult tickets are $8, student single-session tickets are $5 and a child's (3-12) single-session ticket is $4. Children two and under receive free admission. All tickets are general admission and will be available at the St. John Arena ticket office beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Click here to order tickets through Ticketmaster.

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Cal made a school-record eighth straight appearance in the NCAA championship tournament this season; 13th overall. The Bears 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. In 2007, 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. Last year, the Bears fell in a sweep to two-time defending NCAA champion Penn State in the University Park Regional final in State College, Pa. Cal has also made postseason appearances in the AIAW (1981) and NIVC (1991) tournaments and owns a 21-16 record in all postseason matches, 17-12 in the NCAA tournament.

FELLER FOCUS: Cal head volleyball coach Rich Feller leads the Bears into the NCAA tournament for the eighth consecutive year. In his 11th season at Berkeley, Feller has a 14-7 NCAA championship record with Cal and has guided his Bears to victory in all seven of their first round matches. Overall, Feller is 19-15 in postseason matches including five wins while at Colorado State and has taken his team to the regional semifinal three straight years.

ALL-CONFERENCE SIX-PACK: Three players joined conference player of the year Hana Cutura on the All-Pac-10 team; senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley (Sonoma, Calif.), junior setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.) and sophomore outside hitter Tarah Murrey (El Cerrito, Calif.) each received all-conference honorable mention. Wiley earned her second honorable mention recognition with Lloyd making her second appearance on the all-conference team; first as an honorable mention. Murrey received honorable mention for the first time and was a freshman all-conference selection last year. Freshman opposite hitter Correy Johnson (Winter Park, Fla.) was selected to the All-Freshman team with middle hitter Kat Brown (Aptos, Calif.) receiving All-Freshman honorable mention. Johnson's appearance on the frosh team gives Cal nine consecutive years in which at least one first-year player has earned a position on the conference all-freshman team.

BEAR BRILLIANCE: Six California volleyball players received honorable mention selections to the 2009 Pac-10 Conference All-Academic team. Senior libero Kristen Kathan received her third honorable mention and was joined by a duo of second-time honorable mention Bears; senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley and junior setter Carli Lloyd. Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura, junior defensive specialist Meagan Schmitt and sophomore outside hitter Tarah Murrey each made their first appearance on the all-academic team with honorable mention status. The Bears also had at least six players on the conference all-academic team on two other occasions: 1997 and 2006.

LAST WEEK: Cal closed the season on the short end of a two-match losing streak as it fell to rival Stanford in the second Big Spike. The Bears had a chance to thwart the Cardinal's bid for a share of the conference championship but Stanford fought back from down two sets to go on and win in five. In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon upset Washington in Seattle, Wash. to give the Cardinal the 2009 Pac-10 title outright. In spite of the loss, Cal posted a .208 attack percentage and logged 59 kills against one of the top defenses in the conference. Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura put up her 11th double-double of the season with a team-high 17 kills to go with 12 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Tarah Murrey contributed a double-double of her own with 13 kills and 16 digs while junior setter Carli Lloyd was just one kill short of nabbing Cal's first triple-double since 2002. Lloyd had nine kills to go with a career-high tying 18 digs and 44 assists. For the Cardinal, junior outside hitter Alix Klineman had a career night as she led all players with 33 kills and 11 digs.

LIPSCOMB NOTES: The Lady Bison (28-3, 20-0 Atlantic Sun, first) are riding a 25-match winning streak into their second NCAA appearance. Lipscomb made its first trip to the NCAA championships in 2007 where it fell at Dayton in the first round. This is the first meeting between the Bears and the Bison and will also be the first time Lipscomb faces a Pac-10 opponent. The Bison have dropped just six sets during their 25-match streak and prevailed in its only five-set match on the road at Eastern Tennessee State. Lipscomb defeated Belmont and Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA championships. Two-time Atlantic Sun Player of the Year junior middle hitter Alex Kelly leads the Bison in hitting percentage (.361) and kills (4.40 kps). Kelly is first on the team in blocks with 0.68 bps and second on the team in digs with 3.49 dps. She ranks 17th in the nation in kills and 12th in points (5.12 pps). Junior setter Stefine 'Jake' Pease earned all-conference honors and dishes out 11.91 assists per set to go with 2.75 dps. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Rose leads the Bison with 3.61 dps. Junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer chips in 3.41 kps (.258) and is third on the team with 27 service aces. Senior opposite hitter Erin Pierce leads the Bison with 40 service aces and contributes 3.31 dps. Seventh-year head coach Brandon Rosenthal was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year and has led Lipscomb to the last three conference championship matches with A-Sun titles in 2007 and 2009.

OHIO STATE NOTES: The Buckeyes (24-9, 12-8 Big Ten, fourth) closed their season by sweeping through six sets against No. 12 Michigan and Michigan State. Ohio State finished fourth in the Big Ten and was led by all-conference junior outside hitter Katie Dull. Dull paced the Buckeyes with 3.97 kps and ranked second on the team in service aces with 32 on the season. Senior middle blocker Kristen Dozier holds a .313 attack rate and leads the OSU in blocks with 0.84 bps. Dozier adds 2.40 kps and received All-Big-Ten honorable mention earlier this week. Defensively, Senior libero Chelsea Noble leads the way with 3.84 dps while senior setter Ashley Hughes runs the offense with 9.54 aps. Freshman outside hitter Emily Danks tops all Buckeyes with 43 service aces and contributes 2.03 kps. The Buckeyes and the Bears have met twice in program history with the teams splitting wins.

CINCINNATI NOTES: The Bearcats (25-10, 12-2 Big East, second) have won 13 of their last 15 matches with 10 of those wins coming in three sets. Cincinnati finished second in the Big East and put junior setter Annie Fesl, junior outside hitter Stephanie Niemer and sophomore outside hitter Missy Harpenau on the all-conference team. Niemer was a unanimous selection and leads the Bearcats in kills (4.19 kps) and service aces (53, 0.42 saps). Fesl guides the offense with 11.42 aps and has posted 65 kills this year. Harpenau contributes 2.90 kps and leads the team in digs with 3.15 dps. Harpenau is second on the squad with 50 service aces (0.40 saps). Freshman middle blocker Jordanne Scott leads Cincinnati in blocks with 121 (0.98 bps) and adds 2.48 kps. The Bearcats and the Bears have never met in a volleyball match.

RECORD RECALL: Several long-standing Cal records have been broken this season. The most notable of newly minted records is the all-time leader for career kills. Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura surpassed 20-year record holder Tiffany Rochelle (1986-89) for most career kills in a five-set victory at Washington on Nov. 7, and now has 1,931. Cutura also made her way from eighth at the beginning of the season to third place in career attacks and now has 4,485. In addition, Cutura ranks seventh at Cal in all-time service aces with 111. Junior setter Carli Lloyd started the season in fifth but has now taken over second place for career assists (4,159) as she passed Sienna Curci (1989-93) on Nov. 15. Senior libero Kristen Kathan has moved into third place in career digs with 1,434. Senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley entered the all-time career blocks leader ladder and has 320 for 10th on Cal's all-time record.

BRAND NEW BEARS: The Bears signed two top-ranked recruits to its 2010 class out of the great state of Texas. Cal will welcome the services of outside hitters Lauren Loerch (Georgetown, Texas/Georgetown HS) and Adrienne Gehan (Dallas, Texas/Episcopal School of Dallas). Loerch played for Austin Performance volleyball club and was named to the 'Next 30' list of Fab 50 Recruits. She was the Prep Volleyball No. 23 Senior Ace and was selected to the 16-5A District All-Tournament team in 2008 and 2009. Gehan played for the Skyline Juniors volleyball club and lettered all four years in high school. She was named to the All-Southwest Preparatory Conference team three times and was selected to the All-Texas team. Gehan was named an AAU All-American in 2007 and 2008 and was a top-50 junior recruit as well as Prep Volleyball's No. 22 Senior Ace.

BEARS IN THE PAC-10 RANKS: The Bears rank third in the Pac-10 in opponent hitting percentage (.191) and fourth in hitting percentage (.264, 20th nationally). Cal is fifth in kills (13.90 kps) and assists (12.88 aps) in the conference and fourth in blocks (2.68 bps). Senior outside hitter Hana Cutura leads the conference and is third nationally in kills per set with 5.09 kps. Cutura also leads all Pac-10 players and is fourth nationally in points with 5.59 pps. With a .313 rate, Cutura ranks 10th and is the only outside hitter among the top 10 players in hitting percentage. Junior setter Carli Lloyd is fifth in the conference with 11.17 assists per set (26th in the nation). Senior libero Kristen Kathan is seventh in digs with 3.77 dps. Senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is seventh in hitting percentage at .329 (256k, 88e, 510att) and sixth in blocks at 1.05 bps.

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