Feb. 4, 2000
BERKELEY, CA - The University of California women's volleyball program has sign four athletes, Gabrielle Abernathy of Antioch, CA, Heather Diers of Shingle Springs, CA, Astrid Gonzalez of Duarte, CA and Jessica Zatica of Homedale, ID, to National Letters of Intent, it was announced today by Golden Bear head coach Rich Feller.
Abernathy, a 5-10 outside hitter, is Cal's most local signee as she is from Deer Valley High School in Antioch, where she was a three-time all-league selection and the 1999 Bay Valley Athletic League MVP. She was also a three-time All-Contra Costa Times selection and is ranked among the top 50 recruits in the nation by Student Sports magazine.
"I feel like (signing Abernathy) kind of establishes that Cal is for real," said Feller, who in his first year as the Bears coach led Cal to its best record (13-15) since 1995 and its best Pac-10 record (7-11) since 1991. "She was one of the first (top) athletes willing to believe in us. She can be as good as anyone who has come through this program and can be right up there with the best that have ever played in the Pac-10. She's a dynamic athlete."
Diers is a 6-1 middle blocker from Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, CA, where she was a two-time SVC All-League selection and last year was named league Defensive Player of the Year. For her high school career, Diers recorded an impressive 215 solo blocks. She also lettered two years on the varsity track team.
Gonzalez is a 5-9 setter/outside hitter from Alverno High School in Sierra Madre, CA and a member of the Ichiban Volleyball Club in Long Beach, which also produced current Cal players Alicia Perry and Jameka Stevens. In 1999, she helped lead Nike-Ichiban to the USVBA Junior Olympic National Championship in the 18-Opens Division. Gonzalez is also a three-time team MVP and Horizon All-League selection, and in 1998 was the Horizon League MVP. As a senior this past fall, she was named Pasadena Star News Player of the Week after she established a school record with 41 kills in a single match. Gonzalez joined Abernathy as one of Student Sports magazine's top 50 high school recruits.
Zatica, the Bears only out of state signee this year, is a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, track and field) from Homedale High School in Homedale, ID. She is a 6-0 middle blocker in volleyball where she was a three-time first team All-Western Idaho Conference selection and a participant in the USA Development Camp and USA Junior National Team tryouts. Zatica was also a three-time all-league and two-time all-state pick in basketball. She is an outstanding Heptathlete as well, capturing numerous league titles in the high jump, 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, 4x100 relay and long jump. Zatica was a two-time district and state champion in the high jump and was the USATF Junior Olympic National Champion in the Heptathlon in July of 1997.
"I think, as a group, we were able to sign one of the top three classes in the Pac-10," said Feller. "These are athletes who certainly have the ability to be competitive right away in the conference and the size and athleticism of (Heather) Diers and (Jessica) Zatica will help our blocking. We are extremely excited about this class."