No. 10 Cal Hosts UC Davis, Visits Houston Tournament

Aug. 30, 2004


Sept. 1 vs. UC Davis, Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA 7 p.m.Sept. 3-5 at UH Tourn., Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, TX 5/1/2 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: No. 10-ranked California opens the 2004 season hosting UC Davis, Wednesday, Sept. 1 at Haas Pavilion, before travelling to the Houston (Texas) Tournament Sept. 3-5. Cal will take on No. 14-ranked Kansas State Sept. 3 and Maryland Sept. 4, before facing host Houston Sunday, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Golden Bears will be competing without their top player, Mia Jerkov, but return five starters and their top libero from the 2003 squad that went 25-7, advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 and finished ranked No. 12 in the country. Cal is looking to extend its streak of five straight tournament titles from the 2002 and 2003 regular seasons.2004 OUTLOOK: The Bears will be without one of the premier players in the country, 6-4 senior outside hitter Mia Jerkov. Jerkov will be staying in her native Croatia to play with her national team. She competed for the Croatian National Team this past spring in hopes for a berth in the 2004 Olympic Games. As part of her training, Jerkov was sent by the Croatian Federation to play matches with a Russian club team comprised of national team players, which put her college eligibility for the 2004 season in jeopardy. A National Player of the Year candidate, she was a two-time All-America, All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 selection, had recorded 30 or more kills in a match 14 times and is the school-record holder for single-season kills (701) and points (785.5). Jerkov had been AVCA Division I National Player of the Week twice, Pac-10 Player of the Week six times and MVP in five-straight regular season tournaments, while leading the Pac-10 in kills the past two seasons. Returning starters who also helped Cal rise as high as fifth nationally after 16- straight victories and its first win over Stanford since 1982 are Samantha Carter (6-0, S. SO), Camille Leffall (6-1, OH, SR), Gabrielle Abernathy (5-11, OH, SR), Alicia Powers (6-2, MH, JR), Jenna Brown (5-11, OH, JR) and libero Jillian Davis (5-9, L, SO). Carter set a new school record with 1,555 single-season assists and was a member of the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Leffall earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 accolades and is the Bears' record holder with a .354 career hitting percentage.CAL'S AVCA RANKING: Cal's No. 10 ranking is only the fourth time in school history the Bears have been preseason ranked. Cal was ranked No. 24 at the start of last season, No. 12 in 1983 and No. 9 in 1989. The Bears finished with a No. 12 national ranking last year after falling to Georgia Tech, 3-1, in the NCAA Regional in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Bears have been ranked 51 times, including in all 17 weekly polls last season, reaching as high as a No. 5 ranking on Oct. 13, 2003. The highest Cal has ever been ranked at the end of a season was 10th in 1982.IMPORTANT HOME DATES: Sept. 9-11 Golden Bear Invitational, Cal's annual tournament features the No. 10 Bears, No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 16 ranked UC Santa Barbara. Oct. 31 vs. Stanford, the Bears host Bay Area rival Stanford Cardinal in 'The Big Spike.' Nov. 4 vs. USC, Cal hosts two-time defending national champion USC. The Bears were the only team to take the undefeated Trojans to five games last season.HEAD COACH RICH FELLER: Rich Feller (81-67, .547 at Cal; career 380-234, .619) is in his sixth season at Cal. He was named both 2003 Pacific Region Co-Coach of the Year and 2003 Pac-10 Coach of the Year after leading the Bears to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history. 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.CAL VERSUS UC DAVIS, KANSAS STATE, MARYLAND AND HOUSTON: Cal has a 2-2 all-time record against UC Davis (16-13 in 2003). The Bears and Aggies tied in the last meeting, 1-1, Sept. 11, 1984, at UC Santa Barbara. UC Davis is coached by Stephanie Hawbecker (fifth year at UCD) and is led by 5-11 sophomore outside hitter Nicole Read (.337 hitting percentage in 2003). The Bears will be facing No. 14 Kansas State (30-5, NCAA Round of 16 in 2003) for the first time in school history. The Wildcats are coached by Suzie Fritz (fourth year at KSU) and feature 6-1 senior setter Gabby Guerre (1,517 assists, HM All-American in 2003). Cal will be facing Maryland (27-8, NCAA second round in 2003) for the first time in school history, as well. The Terrapins are coached by Janice Kruger (17th year at UM) and are led by 5-10 senior setter Aimee Huddleston (1,669 assists, first team All-ACC in 2003). The Bears have a 4-0 all-time record against Houston (12-20 in 2003). Cal defeated the Cougars in the last meeting, 3-1, Oct. 14, 1995, in Berkeley. Houston is coached by Bill Walton (19th year at UH) and a top returner is 5-11 sophomore outside hitter Kelly McAnelly (451 kills in 2003).KEY CAL NEWCOMERS: Angie Pressey, 5-8 outside hitter, FR - Lake Mary HS (Heathrow, FL) 2002 Florida 6A Volleyball Player of the Year; member of Fab 50 team in 2003 and 2004; all-state performer in volleyball, basketball and track. Ellen Orchard, 6-2 middle hitter, FR - Cypress Springs HS (Houston, TX) District MVP and all-state selection in 2003; two-time All-Houston Area and three-time all-district; member of 2004 Fab 50 team.BEARS' TOURNAMENT SUCCESS: Cal has been perfect in regular-season tournaments since the 2002 season, winning 15 consecutive tournament matches and capturing five-straight tournament titles. Former Bear standout Jerkov was tournament MVP during all five of Cal's tournament titles. Last season, Cal won the Colorado State Coors Classic and the Golden Bear Invitational. Leffall joined Jerkov as a member of the Colorado State Coors Classic all-tournament team, while Carter and Abernathy joined Jerkov on the Golden Bear Invitational all-tournament team.CAL PLAYERS RETURNING HOME FOR HOUSTON TOURNAMENT: The Bears feature three players who will be returning to their home state when Cal travels to the Houston Tournament. Junior outside hitter Jenna Brown is from Friendswood, which is just outside of Houston, freshman middle hitter Ellen Orchard is from Houston and sophomore setter Meredith Hasson hails from Austin, Texas. The Bears were successful in their last tournament trip to the Lone Star state, winning the 2002 SMU DoubleTree Invitational with 3-0 victories over Texas-San Antonio, Tulane and Southern Methodist.BEARS HAVE TOUGH 2004 SCHEDULE: Competing in what is arguably the toughest volleyball conference in the nation - the Pac-10, the Bears' 2004 schedule includes 10 teams ranked in the USA Today/CSTV Preseason Poll. Cal will take on No. 1 USC, No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Washington and No. 17 Arizona in league play. The Bears will also face some extremely talented foes in non-conference action. Cal takes on No. 14 Kansas State Friday in Houston, before hosting No. 16 UC Santa Barbara Sept. 10 and No. 15 Texas A&M Sept. 11 at the Golden Bear Invitational in Haas Pavilion. Following the Golden Bear Invitational, Cal will play at No. 13-ranked Hawaii Sept. 17 and visit No. 22 Santa Clara Sept. 28. The Bears defeated four teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25 last season (No. 13 Washington Sept. 26, No. 14 Santa Clara Oct. 8, No. 4 Stanford Oct. 11, at No. 10 Washington Oct. 24). The Bears were the only team to take two-time defending national champion USC to five games last season, coming back from a 2-0 deficit before falling to the Trojans, 15-13, in game five at Haas Pavilion Oct. 18.CAL IMPRESSIVE IN 2003: In 2003, the Bears' 25-7 record was the best winning percentage (.781) in school history. Cal recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1981-83. The Bears qualified for the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history. Cal made its second consecutive NCAA appearance - seventh overall. The 2003 Bears' volleyball team was the first Cal program to host a NCAA tournament event at Haas Pavilion. Cal started the season with a school-record 16-straight victories, and won a school-record 12 Pac-10 matches. The Bears defeated Stanford for the first time since 1982 before a record Cal volleyball crowd of 3,021. Cal earned its highest national volleyball ranking ever at No. 5 on Oct. 13, 2003, after defeating No. 14 Santa Clara and No. 4 Stanford in back-to-back five-game matches at Haas Pavilion.BEARS AMONG PAC-10 STAT LEADERS: The Bears return four players - Leffall, Abernathy, Carter and Davis - who were among the 2003 stat leaders in the Pac-10. Leffall was sixth in hitting percentage (.345) and ninth in the Pac-10 in blocks (1.10 bpg), while Abernathy was fourth in service aces (0.42 pg). Carter was second in the Pac-10 in assists per game (13.41) and Davis was fifth in digs (3.43 dpg). Besides Carter being named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and Leffall earning Pac-10 honorable mention, Davis and freshman outside hitter Amanda Fox were honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshmen.DID YOU KNOW? The Golden Bears featured Holly McPeak, the 1987 National Freshman of the Year, who has played beach volleyball in the last three summer Olympics and won a bronze medal with partner Elaine Youngs at the 2004 Athens Games.

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