Complete Weekly Release
Oct. 9, 2012
Friday, Oct. 12
8 p.m. PT- No. 6 USC (16-2, 4-2 Pac-12) at Cal (9-7, 3-3)
Haas Pavilion - Berkeley, Calif.
Coverage: Pac-12 Networks, Live Audio, GameTracker, Twitter, Facebook
All-Time Series vs. the Trojans: 11-48
Last Meeting: L, 3-0 (10-29-11)
Sunday, Oct. 14
2 p.m. PT- No. 7 UCLA (12-3, 4-2) at Cal
Haas Pavilion - Berkeley, Calif.
Coverage: Pac-12 Networks, Live Audio, GameTracker, Twitter, Facebook
All-Time Series vs. the Bruins: 6-54
Last Meeting: L, 3-1 (10-28-11)
THE LAST MEETING
October 29, 2011
No. 4 USC Stymies No. 2 Cal, 3-0
After dropping the first two sets to No. 4 USC, the No. 2 California volleyball team returned to form in set three, but could not mount a big enough comeback. The Golden Bears lost 25-15, 25-17, 25-22 to the Trojans on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion.
BERKELEY - Despite having three starters on the sidelines with injuries, the Bears appear to be putting things together lately. Cal was crisp in a sweep of Oregon State on Friday, and took a set from previously undefeated and then-No. 2 Oregon last Wednesday. Three of Cal's four top performances this season in terms of hitting percentage have come in the past five matches. Freshman freshman outside hitter Nikki Gombar made her presence felt against the Beavers with a career-high six aces, while senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari continues to be the Bears' marquee player. Hawari ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with a .368 hitting percentage and is second on the team with 1.23 blocks per set. She has been especically effective since the beginning of conference play, leading the Pac-12 with a .422 hitting percentage and ranking 10th with 1.41 blocks per set.
This Week's Festivities
There will be plenty of activities and promotions at Haas Pavilion this week. Friday is "Think Pink, Dig Pink" Night in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All fans wearing pink receive admission for only $3 and the first 500 fans will receive a free pink ribbon courtesy of Zeta Tau Alpha. There will also be a Greek Challenge at halftime where members of Cal fraternities and sororities will compete in a "pink yogurt" eating contest. Sunday is Beach Day and Girl Scout Day. There will be beach-themed activities for fans on Spieker Plaza outside Haas Pavilion, including photo opportunities with a beach backdrop and accessories such as oversized sunglasses and hula skirts. There will also be face painting, Cal script tattoos, and a chance for kids to dig through a sand-filled kiddie pool to win Cal Volleyball prizes. Girl Scouts will take part in pre-match poster making and also have the opporutnity to take part in all of the Beach Day activities. The first 1,000 fans Sunday will receive free leis, and all fans that bring a beach towel will get to sit courtside for the match. Also Sunday, Cal director of operations Dave Dantes will hold a "Chalk Talk" session in the Haas Pavilion Club Room in which he will preview the match and field questions from fans. Finally, all Cal players will be available for autographs following both matches this week.
Cal vs. Ranked Teams
The Bears are 1-2 against ranked teams this season. Cal beat then-No. 6 Hawaii in Honolulu in five sets on Sept. 2. The Bears then lost in three sets to No. 6 Stanford on Sept. 19 and fell in four sets to No. 2 Oregon last Wednesday. Eight of Cal's remaining 14 matches are against teams ranked in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll.
Last Week at a Glance
After playing 10 of their first 14 matches on the road, including the first four of Pac-12 Conference play, the Bears finally got back to Haas Pavilion last week and split matches against No. 2 Oregon and Oregon State. Cal became the first Pac-12 opponent to win a set against Oregon before the Ducks finally prevailed in four. The Bears added to their ever-growing list of the walking wounded when starting outside hitter and leading attacker Adrienne Gehan went down with a knee injury during the first set. Despite the depleted roster, Cal dominated Oregon State in a sweep. The Bears had a season-high 12 aces, including six by freshman Nikki Gombar. Cal hit for a .364 percentage for the second time in three matches, tied for its second-best mark of the season.
Cal in the Pac-12
The Bears have been one of the best programs in the Pac-12 for the better part of the past decade. Cal has finished in fifth place or higher for nine straight years and has amassed at least 10 conference wins in eight of those seasons.
Rostratter Candidate For Senior CLASS Award
Senior libero Robin Rostratter is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, given annually to an NCAA Division I senior with notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition. Rostratter has twice been named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team, and in 2010 won the NCAA Elite 88 Volleyball Award for having the highest grade point average (3.81) of any student-athlete participating in the NCAA championships. Rostratter, who has yet to play this season because of a groin injury, has spearheaded countless charitable and philantrhopic causes. Among them, she has led outreach programs to spread awareness for cancer and physically challenged athletes, and served as a coach at Special Olympics athletic skills clinics and with the Cal Corps to help underprivileged children. It marks the third season in a row a Cal player has been tabbed a candidate for the award.
Cal All Over The Airwaves
Both of Cal's matches this week are being televised by the Pac-12 Networks. Four of the Bears first six conference matches have aired on the networks and nine of the final 14 will also be on TV - eight by the Pac-12 Networks and one by ESPNU.
Cal's Rich Feller has been a head coach for 28 years and he said he's never had a season where so many of his players went down. Before the season even started, projected starting outside hitter Michelle Neumayr tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during preseason practices and was lost for the season. Starting libero Robin Rostratter is also out for the season with a groin injury, and middle hitter Lillian Schonewise (shoulder) has yet to play because of a shoulder ailment. Then last week against No. 2 Oregon, starting outside hitter and leading attacker Adrienne Gehan injured her knee. Also, starting opposite Correy Johnson has missed 24 sets this season because of a stress reaction in her leg, but has been able to play in every set the past two weeks.
The Cal Leader Board
Kills: Adrienne Gehan - 181 (3.35/set)
Hitting Percentage: Shannon Hawari - .368
Assists: Joan Caloiaro - 549 (9.47/set)
Aces: Nikki Gombar - 19 (0.32/set)
Blocks: Kat Brown - 81 (1.35/set)
Digs: Mary McKennon - 211 (3.52/set)
Bears on Pac-12 Leader Board
Hitting Percentage: Shannon Hawari - .368 (Fifth)
Assists per set: Joan Caloiaro - 9.47 (Seventh)
Service aces: Nikki Gombar - 0.32 (Seventh)
Blocks per set: Kat Brown - 1.35 (Eighth)
Digs per set: Mary McKennon - 3.52 (Tenth)
Bears Unranked For First Time Since 2002
Cal fell out of the AVCA Coaches Poll on Sept. 3, marking the first time the Bears haven't been ranked since the final poll of the 2002 season. Cal was ranked No. 24 in the 2003 preseason poll and stayed in the rankings every week until the Sept. 3 rankings. There are five Pac-12 teams ranked in the top-7 this week.
Welcome to Cal. ...Now Get on the Court!
Cal's injuries have resulted in a lot of inexperience on the court, and three freshmen are getting a lot of playing time because of it. Libero Mary McKennon and outside hitter Nikki Gombar have played in every set this season, while opposite Lara Vukasovic has started eight matches and played in 37 of the Bears' 60 sets.
Senior middle hitters Kat Brown and Shannon Hawari have spent the season rising up Cal's career blocks leader board. With 12 more blocks last week, Brown moved into sole possession of third place on the school's all-time list with 436. She needs just three more blocks to pass former All-American Camille Leffall and assume second place all-time. Hawari, meanwhile, has 74 blocks this season and now stands in fifth place all-time with 405 in her career. Ellen Orchard is Cal's all-time career leader with 504.
Senior middle hitter Shannon Hawari is playing as well as any middle hitter in the Pac-12 this season. The fifth-year senior leads the Bears and ranks fifth in the conference with a .368 hitting percentage. She also leads the Pac-12 with a .422 hitting percentage in conference matches. Hawari is second on the Bears with 1.23 blocks per set.
Lara Likes The Outside
Lara Vukasovic has had an eventful introduction to college volleyball. The freshman from Zagreb, Croatia was thrust into the starting lineup immediately after an injury to opposite Correy Johnson. Johnson ultimately returned, but then last week starting outside hitter Adrienne Gehan went down with a knee injury and Vukasovic replaced her despite not seeing any practice time at outside hitter all season. Vukasovic played both front and back row and held her own, averaging 2.85 digs per set and tossing in three service aces against Oregon State.
Nikki Serves Notice
Freshman outside hitter Nikki Gombar has been Cal's best server all season but she took it to another level last week against Oregon State. Gombar recorded a career-high six aces, part of a season-high 12 for the Bears. Gombar now ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with 0.32 aces per set.
The Trojans begin the week with a 16-2 record, 4-2 in Pac-12 play. USC's only losses are to then-No. 8 Oregon and then-No. 5 Washington. USC began the season ranked No. 5 nationally, rose to as high as No. 2 and now sits at No. 6. Before visiting Haas Pavilion, the Trojans have a showdown at No. 4 Stanford on Wednesday.
USC is led by freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio, who ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with 4.10 kills per set. Bricio is the current conference Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, the first time ever a player has taken both honors simuletaneously. Bricio has won Freshman of the Week three times this season. Senior opposite Katie Fuller also contributes 3.75 kills per set.
Junior libero Natalie Hagglund ranks third in the Pac-12 with 4.48 digs per set and is the current Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
The Bruins, the defending NCAA champions, were the No. 1 team in the country in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Top 25.
Senior outside hitter Rachael Kidder was a first team All-American last season. She currently ranks ninth in the Pac-12 with 3.91 kills per set. Fellow outside hitter Tabi Love is eighth at 4.07.
Sophomore outside hitter Karsta Lowe leads the Pac-12 with a .392 hitting percentage while libero Bojana Todorovic is sixth with 3.84 digs per set.
Next Week on the Court
The Bears are back on the road next week. Cal visits Washington State on Friday at 7 p.m. then plays at No. 2 Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
Following the Bears From Afar
Live statistics and live audio for Cal's matches are provided via links on CalBears.com. Fans can receive regular in-match updates and a behind-the-scenes look at the Bears by following Cal Volleyball on Twitter and by "Liking" the Cal Volleyball Facebook page.
Bears Excel in Classroom
For the second consecutive year, Cal was recognized with the AVCA Team Academic Award. The honor is bestowed on teams that have a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or better on a 4.0 scale or 4.10 on a 5.0 scale.
Cal to Host NCAA Regionals
Cal has been selected to host the 2012 NCAA Regionals. They will be played at Haas Pavilion on Dec. 7-8. Fans can buy tickets at the Haas Pavilion Athletic Ticket Office or by calling (800) GO-BEARS.