No. 6 California Reaches NCAA National Semifinal For First Time In School History
Dec. 9, 2007
NCAA Championship Semifinal (ESPNU/ESPN2)
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 - 8 p.m.
Arco Arena, Sacramento, Calif.
vs. No. 1 Penn State
NCAA Championship Match (ESPNU/ESPN2)
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007 - 6 p.m.
Arco Arena, Sacramento, Calif.
vs. No. 4 Stanford / No. 5 USC
BEAR NOTES: The No. 6 California volleyball team (26-7, 12-6 Pac-10) advanced to the national semifinal of the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament by winning the Wisconsin Regional over the weekend. The Golden Bears defeated No. 18 Iowa State (19-14, 11-9 Big 12) and Big 12 Champion No. 2 Nebraska (30-2, 19-1 Big 12) to advance past the round of 16 for the first time in school history. Cal holds the lowest seed of the four remaining teams in the championship tournament as the 10th seed. They will face third-seed Big 10 Champion No. 1 Penn State (32-2, 20-0 Big 10) in one semifinal match on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif. Match start time is set for 8 p.m. local time. In the other semifinal match, top-seeded Stanford and fifth-seeded USC will square off in a 6 p.m. start. Both semifinal matches will be broadcast by ESPNU and ESPN2. The winners of the two semifinal matches will meet in the NCAA Championship match on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. PST. The championship match will be broadcast live by ESPN2. The 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship is hosted by Sacramento State University. Please check your local listings and CalBears.com for up-to-date information.
CAL IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: With this season's selection, California made its sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, a program record. The Bears have now made postseason NCAA play eleven times. Prior to the current six-season run, Cal made the NCAA Tournament in 1982-83 and 1987-89 emerging from that era with a 3-5 record. Under the direction of head coach Rich Feller, the Bears have won each of the six first-round matches that they have played and have now advanced to the regional semifinal three times; once also in 2003 (a program first) and once again in 2006. Cal's appearance in the Wisconsin Regional final and the national semifinal match are each program firsts. California holds an 11-5 NCAA postseason record with coach Feller. Three Bears were honored with NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team selections, another program-first this season; senior outside hitter Angie Pressey, sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura and freshman setter Carli Lloyd. Cutura was selected the MVP of the Regional All-Tournament Team.
LAST WEEK: The Bears traveled to Madison, Wis., braving the cold weather to emerge as the Wisconsin Regional champion. Facing No. 18 Iowa State in the round of 16, the Bears wasted no time setting a tempo for themselves. Led by 16 kills each from senior outside hitter Angie Pressey and sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura, the Bears walked away with a 3-0 sweep of the Cyclones (30-27, 30-27, 30-24). Cal held Iowa State to just .148 hitting (43k, 25e, 122att) while putting up a strong .303 percentage (53k, 17e, 119att). Facing the No. 2 Huskers, Cal withstood an efficient Nebraska attack (48k, 18e, 125att, .240) to come away with a 3-0 upset sweep of the defending NCAA Champions. Putting on another solid display at the net, the Bears hit .323 and had 59 kills against the Huskers (18e, 127att) and added 10 team blocks to run their new school record to 450.0 total team blocks on the season. Pressey and Cutura combined for 43 kills on just 80 attacks to lead Cal into its first national semifinal match.
NO. 1 PENN STATE NOTES: As the third seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions hosted and won their Regional Final this week, defeating No. 19 Michigan and No. 17 BYU in consecutive three-game sweeps. Penn State is the top ranked team in the most recent AVCA poll and has lost only two matches this season, once to Nebraska and once to Stanford. The Nittany Lions won the Big 10 Conference Championship and held a perfect 20-0 record in conference play. Penn State is currently on a 24 match winning streak. The Lions are led by sophomore outside hitter Megan Hodge who has 524 kills and is hitting .301 this year (169e, 1181att). Junior outside Nicole Fawcett also has more than 500 kills already, with 501 (172e, 1052att, .313) and leads the team in service aces with 42 this season. The Nittany Lions have a 52-25 overall record in the NCAA Championship Tournament including six trips to the national semifinal. Penn State won the NCAA Championship in 1999. The Bears have never faced Penn State on the court.
NO. 4 STANFORD NOTES: The Cardinal hold the top seed in the NCAA Tournament and have won six national championships in 27 consecutive appearances in the tournament. Stanford won the Pac-10 Conference Crown this year, going 16-2 with one loss each to USC and Washington. Currently on an 11-match winning streak, Stanford hosted its own Regional defeating Santa Clara and Sacramento State in the first round and taking out No. 11 Cal Poly and No. 8 UCLA this week to advance to the national semifinal. Freshman outside hitter Alix Klineman has 467 kills this season and was named Pac-10 freshman of the year as a member of the All-Conference team. Senior setter Bryn Kehoe averages 14.50 assists per game for the Cardinal.
NO. 5 USC NOTES: The Women of Troy are coming off a 3-0 sweep of No. 3 Texas to win the Gainesville, Fla. Regional. USC finished third in the Pac-10 with a 14-4 record in conference play and are winners of six national championships, most recently winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003. The Trojans played at home in the first and second round, defeating #25 Long Beach State and Pepperdine before heading to Florida for Regional play. After going five games with No. 13 St. John's, USC took the region with its win over the Longhorns. USC is led by senior outside hitter Asia Kaczor, who has 629 kills this season and is also the team-leader with 40 service aces. Sophomore setter Taylor Carico has 1,540 assists (12.73 apg) to lead a team that is currently riding a nine-match winning streak.
CALIFORNIA POSTSEASON HONORS: Five Golden Bears were honored with postseason Pac-10 Conference honors. Senior outside hitter Angie Pressey was named to the All-Pac-10 Team for the fourth time while sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura made her first appearance on the team. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard and junior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck each made repeat honorable mention appearances. Freshman setter Carli Lloyd was also honored with her selection to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Three Bears were selected to the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament Wisconsin Regional All-Tournament Team. Lloyd, Pressey and Cutura all made the team with Cutura taking home MVP honors for the region.
HEAD COACH Rich Feller: The most successful volleyball coach in Cal history, Rich Feller (165-107, .607 at Cal; career 464-274, .629) is in his ninth season at Berkeley. Feller has led the Bears to a school-record sixth consecutive NCAA appearance. This season, Feller guided the Bears to their third NCAA regional appearance in school history and its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament National Semifinal. With this years' win over Washington State, Feller led the Bears to their fourth 20-win season in sex years. In 2003, he was named Pacific Region Co-Coach of the Year and Pac-10 Coach of the Year after leading Cal to an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history. Feller was an assistant for the USA National Team from 1997-98, and head coach at Colorado State for 14 years (1983-96) prior to taking over the Bears' coaching reins in 1999.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Angie Pressey and Ellen Orchard are in the Cal record books for both single-season and career marks. Pressey, one of four Cal All-American volleyball players in school history, and the only four-time All-Pac-10 selection, is currently third on Cal's all-time kills list (1,710). Pressey is also eighth all-time with a .245 career hitting percentage and third with 4,176 attacks, surpassing Alicia Perry (1997-2000) earlier this season. Pressey had the fifth-most single-season kills (487) in school history in 2006. Orchard set a new school record for most total blocks in a single match with 13 against UCLA on Sept. 27 this season and has the school's fourth-highest career hitting percentage (.299). Orchard's 20 total blocks against USC and UCLA on the road this season secured the top career mark for total blocks by a Cal player, surpassing the old record of 438 held by Camille Leffall (2001-2004). She currently has 503 heading into the NCAA Tournament Championship semifinal. As a senior, Orchard has the school's second most single-season blocks to-date with 191 and as a junior, she had the school's third-most single-season blocks (168) and the ninth-best hitting percentage (.305). Orchard's hitting percentage this season would be fifth at .332.
A HELPING HAND: True freshman setter Carli Lloyd has amassed 1,515 assists in her first year for the Bears. Her total is already good for second all-time for an individual season total. She is within 40 assists of tying the Cal all-time single season mark and has already reached sixth on the career-ladder for total assists at Cal. Her season-high 69 assists against USC in Los Angeles on Oct. 26 were just 10 shy of the Cal record of 79 for a match. Lloyd's 12.84 apg average is fourth in the Pac-10.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES: The Golden Bears set a new school record for hitting percentage in a match on Sept. 1 against UNC-Wilmington at the Colorado Invitational. Cal had 43 kills with only three errors on 57 attacks to register a .702 hitting percentage, a Pac-10 record and fifth on the NCAA all-time record for three-game matches. The old school record of .467 was set in 2001 against San Francisco. The Bears also hit for .449 against Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 8) and .446 against Central Florida (Aug. 31) this season. As a team in 2007, the Bears are hitting .269 in 33 matches (1,917 kills, 718 errors, 4,449 attacks) and finished conference play fourth amongst Pac-10 teams. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard, sophomore middle hitter Mindi Wiley and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly have the teams highest individual percentages with .332, .328 and .316 respectively. Reilly's .909 (10k, 0e, 11att) against Santa Clara is tied for seventh best all-time in Pac-10 history.
TOP OF THE BLOCK: Averaging 3.80 blocks per game, the Bears are far and away the best blocking team in the Pac-10 this season. Cal has two of the top four blockers in the Pac-10 on the roster. Senior middle hitter Ellen Orchard leads the conference in blocks individually, putting up 1.63 blocks per game and redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly is fourth with 1.40 bpg. Orchard registered the highest total blocking output for a single game amongst Pac-10 players this season with her school record 13 and has had 10 or more blocks five times this season. The 23 total team blocks logged by the Bears against UCLA on Sept. 27 is a Pac-10 Conference best for 2007. In 33 matches, the Bears have reached double figures in total blocks on 30 occasions, reaching at least 16 nine times and the 20-block mark three times. Cal's 450.0 total blocks on the season is a new school record.
ON THE LOW DOWN: Cal has been beating opponents with strong defense at the net, holding four opponents to negative hitting percentages. The Bears' .146 opponent hitting percentage is the best mark in the Pac-10. Cal has surrendered a better-than .250 hitting percentage only three times this season, all losses. The Bears are 24-2 when they hit a better percentage than their opponent. The losses were to UCLA at Haas Pavilion, to Washington at Bank of America Arena and to Stanford at Maples Pavilion.
ACES UP: California leads the Pac-10 with an average of 1.73 service aces per game. Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura leads the team with 34 aces and a 0.30 sapg average. Fellow sophomore outside hitter Cat Dailey averages 0.31 sapg with 21 on the year. Three other players have 28 total aces or more; sophomore libero Kristen Kathan (28 total, 0.26 sapg), senior middle Ellen Orchard (30 total, 0.27 sapg), and freshman setter Carli Lloyd (28 total, 0.24 sapg). Cal has reached the 10-ace mark as a team in three separate matches this season, reaching nine aces on five other occasions. Six different Cal players have had four aces or more in single matches (Murphy, Dailey, Kathan, Pressey, Hana Cutura and Ellen Orchard).
DIGGING DEEP: Cal's defense at the net and conference leading blocking average has shown up on an opposite statistic as the Bears are not high in the Pac-10 ranks in digs, averaging 14.02 per game. Sophomore libero Kristen Kathan has come on strong of late, in eighth in conference with 3.72 dpg. She had 17-straight contests with double digits in digs, reaching 29, 25, 19 and 18 twice during that span.
RUNNING WITH THE PAC: California is not the only team from the Pac-10 Conference to have been selected to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Cal joined five other Pac-10 selections among the field of 64 including top-seeded Stanford. Stanford is also the highest-ranked team from the Pac-10, weighing in at No. 4 in last week's CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll and will hosted a regional final this week. Joining the Cardinal in the Stanford regional were eighth-seeded UCLA and Oregon. USC was awarded a fifth seed and hosted first and second round matches in the Gainesville, Fla. Regional. Sixth-seeded Washington was sent to the Penn State Regional and opened play at home falling to No. 17 BYU in the second round. Three Pac-10 teams won Regional Finals this week and will converge on Sacramento, Calif. including the Bears, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 USC.
ON AN HONOR ROLL: In addition to postseason All-Pac-10 selections, several Golden Bears have received tournament honors this season. Seniors Angie Pressey and Ellen Orchard were named to the Molten Classic All-Tournament Team along with freshman setter Carli Lloyd who was selected as the tournament's outstanding setter. Pressey was named the tournament MVP for her performance. Pressey joined redshirt sophomore Kat Reilly on the All-Tournament Team at the 2007 Colorado Invitational. Hosting and winning the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational, four different Bears received All-Tournament team honors after defeating then-No. 12 Minnesota in a 3-0 sweep. Pressey, Orchard and Lloyd were joined by junior outside/middle Morgan Beck. Orchard was named the tournament MVP while Lloyd was once again named the outstanding setter. Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura and Reilly were named to the All-Tournament team at the Santa Clara Invitational.
BEARS IN TV LAND: The Cal vs. Stanford match at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif. on Nov. 23 was selected as the Fox Sports Net Pac-10 game of the week, making it the fifth time this season that the Bears had appeared on television. The Bears appeared on three live telecasts this season in matches against Minnesota (Sept. 8), Stanford (Sept. 21) and USC (Sept. 28), each time on Comcast SportsNet. The Cal match at Oregon was also shown on television, delayed on Fox Sports Net. In postseason play, Cal was on ESPNU in its match against No. 2 Nebraska. The national semifinal and NCAA Championship match will each be carried on ESPNU and ESPN2. Overall, the Bears are 3-3 when televised.
2007 SCHEDULE: Cal once again completed a season amidst what is arguably the most challenging volleyball conference in the nation - the Pac-10. The Bears' 2007 schedule included eight teams ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll, with five of those opponents coming from the Pac-10. Cal faced No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 USC, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Oregon, and No. 10 Washington twice each in league play. Outside of the conference, the Bears defeated a then-No. 12 Minnesota team and also notched a victory over then-No. 22 Santa Clara. In tournament play, the Bears defeated then-No. 22 ranked Duke in the first round and defeated No. 18 Iowa State and No. 2 Nebraska to win the Wisconsin Regional.
CAL'S PRESEASON AVCA RANKING: Cal's No. 12 pre-season ranking marks the seventh time in school history that the Bears have been ranked to open a season, the fifth time since Feller became head coach in 1999. Cal was ranked 17th at the start of 2006, 19th in 2005, 10th in 2004, 24th in 2003, ninth in 1989 and 12th in 1983. The Bears finished 13th in 2006 after advancing to the NCAA regional where they fell to No. 2 Stanford, 3-0, in Austin, Texas. Cal has been ranked a total of 112 times since 1982, reaching as high as fifth on Oct. 13, 2003. The highest the Bears have ever been ranked at the end of a season was 10th in 1982.
GOLDEN RENAISSANCE: The Golden Bears are honored to have had the generous support of the Renaissance Fund over the years. The fund was started by Jeremy Wagner, a Cal volleyball supporter who is the main benefactor for the annual Golden Bear Invitational. Working closely with Sports 4 Kids, the Foundation also serves the athletic needs of student athletes in and around the Oakland-Alameda area, providing athletic opportunities, educational enrichment and after-school programs for inner-city youth.
READING IS ACHIEVING: Junior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has started an organization as a part of a class project that benefits local Berkeley youth through promoting literacy. The Sandy Martin Foundation rallies Cal student-athletes and sends them out to local elementary schools to do special read-aloud hours in the classroom, providing young students with positive role models and examples of a successful student. Working in conjunction with Malcolm X Elementary School, student-athletes will also lead the classroom in the development of a project that encourages youths to write and produce their own books.
BEAR INTEGRITY: Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Kat Reilly is currently the vice-president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and will be ascending to the role of president in the spring of 2008. 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.
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: Sophomore outside hitter Hana Cutura is the only Bear on the roster hailing from a foreign country. A native of Zagreb, Croatia, Cutura's parents were also athletes. Her father, Zoran, is a former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia and her mother, Gordana, is a former member of the Croatian National Volleyball Team. Cutura leads the team this season with 467 kills and 1,128 total attacks. Her 0.30 service aces per game is also a team-best and her defensive prowess has netted her five double-double matches this year alone. Cutura's 29 kills against Stanford on Nov. 23 were a career high. Aside from two players from Texas (Orchard and Reilly) and one from Florida (Pressey) everyone else on Cal's roster is from California.
GOING BACK TO CALI: Before each match, the Bears gather for a team huddle in which they chant 'Going, going; back, back; to Cali, Cali!'. Taken from the 1997 rap hit Going Back To Cali by Bad Boy Records rapper Notorious B.I.G., the chant is a reference to returning to California for the NCAA Tournament Championship. Now that the team has earned a spot amongst the final four teams alive in the tournament, they've come back to Cali.
SACTOWN HOMECOMING: California freshman libero/defensive specialist Caitlyn Murphy is familiar with the Sacramento area, hailing form Roseville, Calif. where she attended high school at Granite Bay HS. The Bears will make Sacramento their home for the next few days in preparation for the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships.
CLASS OF 2012: The Golden Bears have received National Letters of Intent from two of the nation's most sought-after volleyball prospects, Tarah Murrey and Shannon Hawari. Standing at 6-3, outside hitter Tarah Murrey is regarded as one of the top two recruits, Murrey hails form a family rich in athletic tradition. A local product, prepping at Saint Mary's HS in Berkeley and starring for the Golden Bear Volleyball Club, she earned Bay Shore Athletic League MVP honors three consecutive years (2005-07). As a junior, she was named the 2006 Contra Costa Times Player of the Year. Murrey also brings international experience with her as a member of the USA Youth National Team. Hawari prepped at Plano West HS where she also runs track. A 6-2 middle blocker, Hawari starred with one of the top club teams in Texas, the Texas Advantage. She is Prep Volleyball's No. 23 recruit in the nation and was named the Prep Volleyball Classic's Outstanding Hitter this year. Hawari brings National Junior Olympics experience as a 2006 bronze medal winner and led her club squad to back to back Big South Tourney Championships.