No. 8 California Opens Pac-10 Play Hosting No. 11 Oregon and Oregon State

Sept. 23, 2008

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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This Week:Haas Pavilion | Berkeley, Calif.

vs. No. 11 OregonFriday, Sept. 26 7 p.m.

vs. Oregon StateSunday, Sept. 28 1 p.m.

The No. 8-ranked California volleyball team opens up Pac-10 play hosting the Oregon schools at Haas Pavilion this weekend. The Golden Bears take on No, 11 Oregon in a Friday (Sept. 26) match at 7 p.m. With a day's rest between matches, Cal will face Oregon State on Sunday (Sept. 28) in a matinee bout at 1 p.m. Last season, the Bears went 4-0 in matches against the Ducks and the Beavers, dropping only one set in Eugene, Ore. on the way to a fourth place finish in the Pac-10 and tying a school record with 12 conference victories. This weekend's visitors come to Haas with a 22-3 record between the two schools and have each had important wins over ranked opponents in pre-league tournaments. After tying a season high five straight victories, the Bears look to extend their streak when the Ducks and Beavers arrive.

THE FACTS: No. 8 Cal (10-1, 0-0 Pac-10) begins the Pac-10 conference portion of its schedule with two matches at home against No. 11 Oregon (11-1, 0-0 Pac-10) Friday (Sept. 26) at 7 p.m. and Oregon State (11-2, 0-0 Pac-10) Sunday (Sept. 28) at 1 p.m. The Golden Bears are 5-4 in Pac-10 home openers under 10th year head coach Rich Feller but have now won the last 11 matches played at Haas Pavilion dating back to a 3-2 victory over Washington Oct. 11, 2007. Coverage includes Gametracker live statistics and a live video feed available via All-Access.

LAST WEEK: Cal made the trip to Orange County for its final preseason tournament, the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic, hosted by Cal State Fullerton. The Bears came away with three 3-0 victories (Central Connecticut State, San Francisco and CSUF) to earn the tournament title and put three players on the all-tournament team including MVP junior outside hitter Hana Cutura. Joining Cutura were sophomore setter Carli Lloyd and senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon. Cutura put up 44 kills on just 70 attacks (5e, .557) over the weekend and notched her third double-double of the season with 11 digs against the Titans. Breaking the 1,000 kill mark against the Blue Devils, Cutura's offensive efficiency moved her into seventh place on the Cal all-time list for career attack percentage at .246 (1031k, 440e, 2401att). Lloyd averaged 11.67 aps over the three matches and had nine digs and six kills. Solomon also spurred the offense for the Bears, coming in second with 25 kills (5e, 50att, .400) on the team and added five blocks on defense.NO. 11 OREGON NOTES: The Ducks have reeled off nine straight victories since an early 3-2 loss at Illinois (Aug. 30) and come into the weekend with an 11-1 overall record. Nine of Oregon's wins have come in three-set sweeps of its opponents; the other two wins ended 3-1. Cal is the first ranked team on Oregon's schedule. The Ducks are led by senior outside hitter Gorana Maricic, who ranks fifth among conference players in kills per set with 3.85 kps (127k, 40e, 278att, .313). As a team, Oregon emerged from preseason play as the Pac-10 leader in total team blocks, averaging 2.96 bps thanks to a Pac-10 best 1.48 bps from junior middle blocker Enesi Neticia. Senior middle blocker Kristen Forristall is second on the team with 1.23 bps. Senior libero Katie Swoboda leads all conference players with a 4.66 digs per set average. Cal owns a 45-13 all-time record against the Ducks and has won 17 of the last 18 meetings.

OREGON STATE NOTES: The Beavers enter opening weekend on a six-match winning streak that includes a 3-2 win over a No. 13-ranked Wisconsin team in Milwaukee, Wisc. Oregon State's only losses this season are to a No. 17 Colorado State squad and Pepperdine. The Beavers are led by last week's Pac-10 Player of the Week, junior outside hitter Rachel Rourke. Rourke is averaging 3.90 kps (fourth in the Pac-10) and has racked up 187 kills this season (57e, 424att, .307) while tying for the team-lead in service aces with 14. Not far behind Rourke is sophomore outside hitter Jill Sawatzky, who is putting up 3.06 kps with 147 kills. Sawatzky also has 14 service aces this season. Senior middle blocker Lauren Rinderknecht leads the team in blocks with 52 (1.08 bps). Cal is 35-17 all-time against the Beavers, winners of nine out of the last ten meetings.

IN THE RANKS: Cal's No. 5 preseason ranking in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll marks the eighth time in school history that the Bears have been ranked to open a season; the sixth time since Rich Feller became head coach in 1999. The Bears were ranked No. 12 at the start of 2007, No. 17 to open 2006, No. 19 in 2005, No. 10 in 2004 and No. 24 in 2003. Cal's two other preseason rankings came in 1989 (No. 9) and 1983 (No. 12). Setting a program-best mark in 2007, the Bears finished the season in the No. 4 spot after reaching the NCAA national semifinal, where they fell 3-0 to eventual NCAA champion Penn State. Cal's No. 4 ranking during the week of Sept. 8-15, 2008, is the highest regular season ranking the team has received. Since 1982, the Bears have been ranked a total of 119 times.

2008 SCHEDULE: Cal will once again compete in what is arguably the most challenging collegiate women's volleyball conference in the nation - the Pacific-10. The Bears' 2008 schedule includes seven teams ranked in the CBS/AVCA preseason top 25 poll. St. John's and Arizona are among teams that also received votes in the initial poll. Five of the seven ranked teams are from the Pac-10, setting the Bears up for what looks to be at least 12 matches against top-25 ranked teams.

BEARS IN TV LAND: Cal is scheduled to appear live in five televised matches this season. The Bears' first live broadcast will originate from Haas Pavilion at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 as they face Arizona State on Comcast Sports Net West. Fox Sports Net will show the Big Spike at Stanford on Oct. 19 (12:30 p.m. PT) and Comcast will show the Big Spike at Cal on Nov. 14 (7 p.m.). Comcast's crew will haunt the Haas sidelines on Halloween night (Oct. 31) as the Bears take on Washington State. And finally, USC's visit to Haas Pavilion on Nov. 22 will be carried by Fox Sports Net (5 p.m. PT) immediately following the Cal vs. Stanford football game.

THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE: The Pac-10 is home to six teams ranked in the most recent CBS/AVCA top 25 poll. Topping the list is No. 4 UCLA with No. 5 USC right behind them. 2007 NCAA runner-up Stanford checks in at No. 6 and Cal sits currently at No. 8. Right behind the Bears, Washington holds the No. 9 position and Oregon is the last to be listed at No. 11. Additionally, Arizona received enough votes to hold the mythical No. 27 ranking and Oregon State is right behind the Wildcats at the theoretical No. 28 spot.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH: Cal will benefit from the leadership of three captains this season. Seniors Kat Reilly, Morgan Beck and Am'ra Solomon will each take the roll of co-team captain for 2008. Reilly brings her experience as the president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Council to the court while Beck carries three years of on-court familiarity. Solomon's passion for the game and the team are apparent when she takes the court, often leading the team in cheers.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCE: The Bears return several weapons at the outside hitter position in 2008, including All-American junior Hana Cutura. Cutura leads the team in total kills with 154 (41e, 290att, .390) and kills per set (4.40 kps). She also does her share of work on defense, picking up 82 digs thus far (2.34 dps). Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck has logged 82 kills (2.48 kps) and 24 total blocks (0.73 bps) after earning All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2007. Senior Am'ra Solomon has put down 79 kills (2.72 kps) with a .317 attack percentage (20e, 186att). Solomon netted 80 kills (2.58 kps) a year ago in limited action. The Bears also add freshman Tarah Murrey (63k, 23e, 129att, .310) to the lineup this season.

FRESH FACES: The Bears welcome five newcomers to the team this year. Topping the list is phenom outside hitter Tarah Murrey. Murrey comes to Cal as one of 2007's most highly sought-after high school recruits in the country. Her impressive resume includes Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 honors and recognition as the 2008 Gatorade California Player of the Year. Also a Fab 50 selection, freshman middle hitter Shannon Hawari looks to step in and battle for immediate playing time. Joining Murrey and Hawari in the freshman class are setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe, setter Kristin Obermeyer and defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman.

NATIONAL AND THEM: The Bears hold several distinctions among the countries top teams including the No. 5 position in assists with 11.56 aps. Hawai'i leads all teams with a 14.05 aps average. As a byproduct, the Bears also rank fifth in the country in kills per set with 14.67. Hawai'i also leads this category with 15.03 kps. Cal's .322 hitting percentage ranks third in the country behind only Washington at No. 2 (.358) and Penn State at No. 1 (.398).

#1: SETTING THE SCENE: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 11.58 aps (417 assists), second in the Pac-10, but more importantly, has the Bears on top of the conference with a 13.56 aps mark (fifth in the country). A 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, Lloyd posted 1,550 assists (12.81 dps) last year, and earned NCAA Wisconsin Regional all-tournament team status for her impressive postseason play. In addition to setting her teammates up, Lloyd also put down 93 kills and added 111 total blocks as a freshman. Lloyd's 1,967 assists is already good for sixth among all-time career leaders at Cal. Her stellar play has netted her all-tournament honors in all four of Cal's preseason tourney's including two MVP awards (Cal Molten Classic and Golden Bear Invitational).

#1: CALIFORNIA GLADIATOR: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd credits her athleticism to the training she received from uncle and coach Galen Tomlinson. Tomlinson, a former volleyball coach at Fallbrook Union High School, is better known in some circles as Turbo from the 1980's television series, 'American Gladiators.'

#1: LLOYD NAMED PAC-10 VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd was named the Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 23-Aug. 31 after earning honors as the Outstanding Setter and MVP of the Cal Molten Classic. Lloyd posted 66 assists in two matches (11.0 aps) and added eight kills without an error, 10 digs and five blocks. The award is the first for a Cal player since Angie Pressey received it for the week of Aug. 28, 2006. It is the first such honor for Lloyd and the 23rd for Cal. The Bonsall, Calif. native later received Outstanding Setter and MVP honors at the Golden Bear Invitational and earned a spot on the Diet Coke Classic all-tournament team.

#2: DIGGING DEEP: Junior defensive specialist/libero Kristen Kathan sits sixth among Pac-10 players in digs per set with 3.97 dps (143 in 36 sets). Last year, Kathan registered the ninth-best single-season mark for digs at Cal as a sophomore with 414 (3.70 dps). Kathan had a career-high 29 digs at USC, Oct. 26, and her digs per set average was good for ninth-best among Pac-10 players last season. This season, Kathan put up a season-high 23 balls against Cal Poly Sept. 14, 2008.

#3: NATIONAL BECKONING: Senior outside hitter/middle hitter Morgan Beck spent the 2008 spring semester away from the Berkeley campus to be with the USA Women's Indoor Volleyball team in Colorado Springs, Colo. Along with since-departed Angie Pressey, Beck trained with the team under the direction of head coach 'Jenny' Lang Ping. This summer, the USA Women's Indoor Volleyball team won the silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

#4: SISTER, SISTER: Freshman outside hitter Tarah Murrey comes from a family of athletes, one of which is older sister, Brittney. The elder Murrey is the starting setter for UC Riverside. Cal faced the Highlanders in what became a family affair at Haas Pavilion on Sept. 6 in the Golden Bear Invitational. Youth beat out experience as Cal's Murrey helped the Bears to a 3-0 win to close out the tournament crown.

#7: ROE, ROE, ROE YOUR BOAT: Freshman setter/defensive specialist Ashley Roe lists writing poetry and lyrics as one of her favorite off-court activities. She can often be heard singing ad-lib lyrics to familiar melodies. She has appeared in three matches for the Bears, logging a service ace on her first collegiate play against Minnesota (Sept. 12) and logged her first career assist on a kill from Hana Cutura against Central Connecticut State Sept. 19.

#8: ADVENTURES WITH AM'RA: Senior outside hitter Am'ra Solomon will be authoring a photo-journal during each of Cal's road trips this season. The pictorial essays are a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Golden Bears and will receive updates the Monday following each road trip. Solomon celebrated her second road-trip of the year with a spot on the Crowne Plaza All-Tournament team. Be sure to check the volleyball home page on for the latest shots off of Am'ra's camera.

#9: OBI WAN KENOBERMEYER: Freshman setter Kristin Obermeyer might not be able to play any Jedi mind-tricks on opponents but she has the resume to prove her academic aptitude as one of the valedictorians at Westmont High School in Campbell, Calif. She has appeared in three matches for Cal and had her first assist against DePaul Sept. 6; she later logged a career-high five assists against Central Connecticut State Sept. 19 at the Crowne Plaza Volleyball Classic in Fullerton, Calif.

#10: MIDDLE METTLE: In her final season with the Bears, senior middle hitter Kat Reilly will serve as one of three team captains. Reilly appeared in just 85 sets last year, protecting her knee after recovering from an injury sustained as a freshman. Last season, Reilly logged 147 kills and hit for .325 (44e, 317att), the sixth-best single season output by a Bear. She also ranked second on the team a year ago with a 1.36 bps average, putting up a total of 116 blocks. This season, Reilly has logged 22 kills (0.85 kps) in limited time (13e, 70att, .129) and 22 total blocks (0.85 bps).

#10: PRESIDENTIAL PRECEDENCE: Senior middle hitter Kat Reilly serves as president of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). 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.

#14: TEXAS TWO-STEP: The Cal roster will once again feature two players from the great state of Texas. With the departure of Ellen Orchard (Houston, Texas), the Bears added another middle hitter in freshman Shannon Hawari to the lineup. Hawari arrives in Berkeley from Plano, Texas, a former player at Plano West High School. Hawari joins senior Kat Reilly, who comes from Plano East High School.

#17: STORMIN' GORMANS: Freshman defensive specialist/libero Katherine Gorman's older brother Richard is a junior designated hitter on the Cal baseball team. With 14 home volleyball matches and 30 home baseball games, Golden Bear sports will be a family affair for the Gorman household. Gorman has appeared in five of Cal's matches this year, recording her first digs in a match at Cal State Fullerton Sept. 20.

#21: WILD AND WILEY: Junior middle hitter Mindi Wiley is attacking at a .270 clip (62k, 25e, 137att). She put up a career high 11 kills and 19 attacks against Notre Dame Sept. 13 and posted a career-high three solo blocks against UC Riverside Sept. 6. She also recorded a career-high eight total blocks against San Francisco Sept. 20. Wiley had Cal's eighth-best single season output for hitting percentage in 2007, registering a mark of .307 (85k, 30e, 179att). Wiley shared time in the middle with since-departed Ellen Orchard and senior Kat Reilly but still managed to average 1.52 kps and put up 74 total blocks (1.32 bps) as a sophomore.

#26: PASSING ON PIROUETTES: Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, junior outside hitter Hana Cutura wasn't always the menacing volleyball force the Bears have come to know. The 6-4 outside hitter used to be a ballet dancer as a young girl but her natural gift for volleyball eventually shoved Nutcracker dreams aside. Last year, Cutura's play in the postseason earned her honors as the NCAA Wisconsin Regional MVP, an achievement her parents are quite proud of. Cutura's father, Zoran is a former Olympic basketball star for Yugoslavia while her mother, Gordana, is a former member of the Croatian National Volleyball team.

#44: FAMILY TRACK RECORD: Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Meagan Schmitt seems destined to have become a Cal athlete. Both her parents, Tom and Laura attended Cal and were cross country and track and field athletes for the Bears. Her uncle, John Starrett also starred as a rower for the Bears.

McSHANE THE TRAIN: This past June, assistant coach Matt McShane joined over 2,800 bike riders on a seven-day, 545-mile trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles as a part of the 2008 AIDS/LifeCycle Ride benefiting HIV/AIDS services. Founded in 2002, AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and is designed to advance their shared interests to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by AIDS through raising funds and social awareness. In 2008, the ride raised over $11.6 million dollars.

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