Cal Volleyball (19-11) To Face Santa Clara (24-6) In NCAA Volleyball First Round
Dec. 1, 2002
BERKELEY, CA - The University of California women's volleyball team (19-11) has been selected one of 64 teams invited to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament and will play No. 13 ranked Santa Clara (24-6) Friday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. in the NCAA First Round at UC Santa Barbara's Thunderdome. If the Bears defeat the Broncos, they will play the winner of the Fresno State (23-6)-No. 6 ranked UC Santa Barbara (28-2) match the following evening in the NCAA Second Round.
Cal defeated Santa Clara earlier this season, 3-2, Nov. 19 at Santa Clara. The Bears had faced the Broncos without their top player, Mia Jerkov, and came back from a 2-0 deficit to upset then-No. 11 ranked Santa Clara. Cal has a 26-6 all-time record against the Broncos, a 12-8 all-time record against Fresno State and a 3-11 all-time record against host UC Santa Barbara.
The Bears put themselves in position to earn their first NCAA berth since 1989 by finishing the 2002 regular season 19-11 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-10, including defeating five teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Cal is one of eight Pac-10 teams that made NCAA postseason this year.
The Bears' 19 wins this season are the most wins for Cal since the '89 team went 19-13 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 1989, the Bears defeated Florida State, 3-1, in Tallahassee, Fla. before falling to Texas, 3-0, in Austin, Tex. Prior to this season, Cal has participated in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament five times (1982, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989) finishing tied for ninth in the nation three times (1982 out of 28 teams, 1983 out of 28 teams and 1989 out of 32 teams). The Bears have a 3-5 all-time record in NCAA volleyball postseason play.
Jerkov, a 6-3 sophomore outside hitter from Split, Croatia, currently has 535 kills on the season, second-most single-season kills in school history behind Tiffany Rochelle's 568 kills in 1988. She was a 2002 All-Pac-10 selection, was twice (Oct. 21 and Sept. 9) the Pac-10 Player of the Week and was the Oct. 21 AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week. Jerkov has also recorded 30 or more kills in six different matches this season. Cal is also led by team captains Leah Young (honorable mention All-Pac-10) and Caity Noonan (setter), sophomore middle blocker Camille Leffall, All-Pac-10 freshman Jenna Brown and freshman middle blocker Alicia Powers, among others.
'It will be tough playing a team we recently defeated,' said Cal coach Rich Feller, who led the Bears to NCAA postseason in his fourth year at Cal. 'But, we can't complain. This is a well-deserved honor for this team and it is a credit to the players and the staff. It also shows the strength of the Pac-10 to have eight teams make the NCAAs. That is incredible.'