CORVALLIS, Ore. – The No. 20 Cal women’s volleyball team gave head coach Rich Feller a round of applause on the team bus following the Bears’ four-set win over Oregon State on Thursday night.
The Bears are hoping for an even bigger celebration Friday.
Feller registered his 300th win at Cal with the Bears’ 25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21 victory over the Beavers. It was also the 599th victory of Feller’s career overall, meaning he can reach the 600-win milestone Friday with a win at Oregon.
Only 28 coaches in Division I history have amassed 600 wins in a career.
“It means I’m old,” said Feller, who is in his 15th season at Cal and 29th overall. “What it really means is that I’ve been at a university that is recruitable, a school that can attract elite student-athletes. I have an administration that has supported volleyball ever since I got here. Obviously, I’ve surrounded myself with a quality staff, and of course I’ve had some great student-athletes. They are the ones that have gotten the wins. I haven’t won a game with a serve or a block or anything else.”
Feller now has a record of 300-160 at Cal and 599-327 overall. Feller spent the first 14 seasons of his career as the head coach at Colorado State.
“I’m very excited for him,” said Cal senior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan, who led the Bears with 14 kills, 13 digs and a career-high six blocks. “It’s a huge milestone. I’m looking forward to doing it two nights in a row. It’s fun to be part of such an awesome thing.”
The Bears had a season-high 17 blocks, including six in the pivotal third set. Middle blockers Lara Vukasovic and Lillian Schonewise had seven blocks apiece. Vukasovic also had 13 kills.
“It was pretty important,” Gehan said of the team’s blocking. “I would say it’s a game-changer for us. Everything else we do pretty consistently. We can be hit or miss with our blocking sometimes.”
After winning the first set fairly easily, the Bears (17-7, 10-5 Pac-12) fell behind 24-21 in the second set before scoring back-to-back points on a kill by Schonewise and an Oregon State hitting error to trim the deficit to one. But the Beavers were able to close out the set to tie the match at one set apiece.
The fourth set was tied 18-18 before Cal scored five points in a row to take command.
“Oregon State has always been a tough match for Cal, from the first year I was here,” Feller said.
The Bears have now won seven of their past eight matches and remain in sole possession of fourth place in the Pac-12 standings, two games ahead of Arizona.
“I think we’re shocking some people, but now we’re ranked so it’s really no longer an upset,” Gehan said. “We’re playing better volleyball. I see all of us getting better every day in practice. This is what needs to happen in November.”
The Bears will next play at Oregon at Friday night at 6 p.m. The match will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.