April 13, 2012
BERKELEY - On April 7, the California volleyball team traveled to Stockton, Calif., for the opening tournament of the spring slate. The Golden Bears took on Pacific, Nevada, Sacramento State and San Jose State. This weekend, Cal heads to Sacramento to play Fresno State, San Francisco, UC Davis and Saint Mary's. CalBears.com caught up with Rich Feller to get the skinny on the first week of spring play.
CalBears.com: What's the goal of spring ball?
Rich Feller: Scores and stats are not really what we are playing for in the spring. We are playing for improvement and to give significant playing time to players that didn't have significant playing time in the fall. It is experimenting with lineups, getting a lot of people in different positions. Really the spring is just about improvement, getting more playing time and trying to figure out what is going to work best when we have a shorter amount of time to get ready next fall.
CalBears.com: How did things go in Stockon?
RF: It was good. Michelle Neumayr, who sat out all year with an injury, got to play all day. We equally split our defensive specialists, and we equally split time for our middle blockers. Correy Johnson is not playing, so that gave someone else the opportunity to play all of the right side, which was Christina Higgins. Lindsey Parrot got lots of reps and lots of competition. That is really what spring is about - getting the gears in motion for what we need in the future.
CalBears.com: What's the spring schedule format like? How does it work to your benefit?
CalBears.com: What worked well in Stockton?
RF: What I liked most about it was getting the chance to see people play. I was very happy to see Michelle Neumayr, who hasn't played volleyball since July, get on the court and play a full day of volleyball. I thought that was really good, and she passed well. She did things we expected her to do. We got Adrienne Gehan back out there, after she spent really most of the season injured. She got to go out there and be kind of a force, which worked really well for us. Christina Higgins got to play a lot of opposite, which is really more of her natural position, so that was good.
CalBears.com: How did the rotation work out last weekend?
RF: Everybody saw a significant amount of playing time. Robin played the libero position the whole time, but Erin Freeman and Marlee Davis split the defensive specialist time. Lillian Schonewise showed that she is right catching up. She is doing very well as a third middle right now with Shannon Hawari and Kat Brown. Really, they were very interchangeable through the course of the day. Lillian showed that her blocking skills have improved considerably, and Kat and Shannon have showed that they are still growing as players. Shannon played a little bit of right side, so we got to see her in a little bit of a different position to just experiment a little bit and see if we can throw her over there every now and then.
CalBears.com: How did Lindsey Parrott do as setter?
RF: Lindsey did okay. She still has to learn a lot about setting itself; not just the technical aspect, but what it means to run an offense and the thought process. This is where these games can be extremely valuable for her if she continues to learn. You have a chance to fix a mistake right away or learn from something that didn't work right away and go back and do it again. That is what back-to-back-to-back-to-back games can do for her. This weekend for her, the goal will be to figure some of those things out: to figure out how to run the offense a little better, how to find a hot hitter and get her hot and keep her hot, and how to track down the bad passes and make something good out of them.
CalBears.com: How was it to coach with the new coaching staff for the first time in a game situation?
RF: That was really good. I love my staff. I think Ben, Jen and Dave are three of the best people we could have on staff, and Lazaro was there as well. It was nice to have Ben; he is very calming. He sees things that sometimes the other coaches don't see. He has a good way of talking to people; his match behavior is very good. He is very even-tempered, and he can be a very calming influence both on me and the bench.
CalBears.com: What are the goals for this weekend in Sacramento?
RF: The goals are going to be to show improvement in every statistical category that we keep. To look at last week's stats, whether it is hitting, passing, serving and blocking, and see some kind of improvement in some of those areas. Stats are one way to see it, and the other is more of the subjective we looked better. But really, we will look at both of those areas and look at video and ask, "Did we make the defensive moves that we wanted to make? Did we make the blocking moves that we wanted to make? Did we serve at a higher efficiency? Did we pass at a higher efficiency? Did we hit at a higher efficiency?" So, we really want to see a little bit of improvement in the areas that we didn't feel as good about last weekend. Then, also, the goal is to find out what else we need to get better at and have a game plan for the week after that.