2003 Preseason Notes For Cal Volleyball

Aug. 20, 2003


BEAR NOTES: No. 24 ranked California, featuring one of the nation's best players in All-American Mia Jerkov, and attempting to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in consecutive years for the first time since 1988-89, opens the 2003 season at the UC Irvine Sunset Showcase Aug. 30-31 in Irvine, Calif. The Bears will take on Hofstra Saturday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m., before facing host UC Irvine Sunday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Crawford Court. Cal is also trying to extend its streak of nine straight regular season tournament victories and 27 consecutive games won in those nine tournament matches.

2003 QUICK OUTLOOK: Cal returns four starters, five seniors and a total of 11 players from the last year's 20-12 NCAA Regional squad, including 6-3 outside hitter Jerkov, the Bears' first All-American volleyball player since Sylvie Monnet in 1983. Jerkov was also first team All-Pacific Region and first team All-Pac-10. She was voted the MVP in all three of the Bears' 2002 tournament titles and was twice named Pac-10 Player of the Week, including becoming the school's first-ever AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 21. Jerkov recorded 30 or more kills in six matches, was the Pac-10 leader in points (635.0, combining kills, blocks and service aces) and kills (578), and established school records for single-season kills (578), single-match kills (39) and kill attempts (91). Cal also features 5-11 sophomore outside hitter Jenna Brown, a member of the 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, and 6-0 junior middle hitter Camille Leffall, the Bears' school record-holder with a .360 career hitting percentage, plus three highly touted freshmen - Samantha Carter, Natalie Smart and Amanda Fox.

CAL'S AVCA RANKING IS RARE HONOR: Cal's No. 24 preseason ranking is only the third time in school history the Bears have been preseason ranked in women's volleyball. Cal was ranked No. 12 in the 1983 preseason poll and No. 9 in the 1989 preseason poll. The last time the Bears were ranked in the AVCA Top 25 poll was at the end of the 1989 season (Nov. 14, 1989), when Cal finished the year 20th in the nation with a 19-13 mark, advancing to the second round of the NCAAs. The Bears have been ranked 34 times in the AVCA Top 25 poll, reaching a high of a No. 8 ranking on Sept. 26, 1989. The highest Cal has been ranked at the end of a season was 10th in 1982.

KEY NEWCOMERS: Samantha Carter, 5-11 setter, FR - Bishop Moore HS (Apopka, FL) Six-time AAU All-American; named nation's 28th top recruit by Student Sports magazine; two-time all-state selection. Natalie Smart, 6-2 middle hitter, FR - Durango HS (Las Vegas, NV) Member of USA Junior National Team; named nation's 50th top recruit by Student Sports magazine; 2002 all-conference and Sunset Region MVP. Amanda Fox, 6-3 outside hitter, FR - El Molino HS (Forestville, CA) Member of USA National Youth Team; named nation's 53rd top recruit by Student Sports magazine; 2001 and 2002 league MVP.

IMPORTANT HOME DATES: Sept. 11-13 Golden Bear Invitational, Cal opens 2003 home schedule hosting a tournament that features Nevada, Cal Poly and New Hampshire. Oct. 11 vs. Stanford, The Golden Bears host Bay Area rival and 2002 national runner-up Stanford Cardinal.

2002 REVIEW: The 2002 Cal volleyball team had one of the best seasons in school history, finishing 20-12, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989 and defeating six opponents ranked in the AVCA Top 25. The Bears defeated No. 14 Santa Clara, 3-1, in the NCAA first round match before falling to No. 7 ranked UC Santa Barbara, 3-0. Cal started the 2002 season with nine consecutive match victories, winning a school-record 27 consecutive games and capturing three tournaments.

HEAD COACH Rich Feller: Rich Feller (56-60, .483 at Cal; career 355-227, .610) is in his fifth season as Cal's head coach. Feller came to the Bears after a stint as assistant coach for the USA National Team (1997-98) and 14 years as head coach at Colorado State (1983-96) where he led the Rams to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 Top 25 national rankings. Feller is the first Cal coach to lead the Bears to NCAA postseason since Dave DeGroot in 1989.

DID YOU KNOW? The Golden Bears featured Holly McPeak, the 1987 National Freshman of the Year, and Lisa Arce, Cal teammates from 1987-89 who went on to be standout Olympic beach volleyball players. Mia Jerkov's father, Zeljko, is a seven-foot former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia, helping his country to a silver medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics (losing to the United States) and a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Pac-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll1. USC (1)2. Stanford (4)3. Arizona (10) UCLA (13)5. California (24)6. Washington7. Arizona State8. Washington State (19)9. Oregon State10.Oregon (Preseason AVCA National Ranking)

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