Nov. 29, 2009
BERKELEY - The No. 11-ranked California volleyball team (18-10, 11-7 Pac-10) received its school-record eighth consecutive bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship on Sunday, Nov. 29. The ninth-seeded Golden Bears were placed in the Gainesville Regional and will face Atlantic Sun Conference champion Lipscomb (28-3, 20-0 A-Sun) in the first round on Friday, Dec. 4, at the St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Cincinnati (25-10, 12-2 Big East) and host-institution Ohio State (24-9, 12-8 Big 10) are on the other side of the bracket with a second-round match set for Saturday, Dec. 5. Match times are still to be determined.
Cal finished fourth in the Pac-10 and hopes to turn its fortunes around after dropping its last two matches in dramatic fashion on the road. The Lady Bisons are riding a 25-match winning streak into the second NCAA appearance in school history and received their highest NCAA ratings percentage index rating in school history last week at No. 34. The Bears hold the No. 8 spot in the RPI.
Last year, the Bears hosted first- and second-round matches at Haas Pavilion and defeated Siena and New Mexico State to advance to the University Park Regional semifinal. There, Cal took out a No. 14-ranked Illinois squad before running into top-seeded and No. 1-ranked defending NCAA champion Penn State. The Nittany Lions took out the Bears for the second season in a row in a 3-0 sweep in State College, Pa.
Cal is 14-7 in NCAA matches under head coach Rich Feller and has advanced to the regional semifinal in each of the last three seasons. The Bears completed a program-best run to the national semifinal in 2007 where it fell to eventual champion Penn State in Sacramento, Calif. Under Feller, Cal is 7-0 in first-round matches.
The Bears are led by senior outside hitter Hana Cutura, who leads the conference in kills (5.09 kps) and points (5.59 pps). Cutura also ranks 10th in hitting percentage as the only outside hitter among a list of middle blockers with a .313 attack rate (555k, 162e, 1255att). This season, Cutura became Cal's all-time career leader in kills and currently has 1,931 (fifth all-time among Pac-10 players). Junior setter Carli Lloyd leads the team and ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in assists with 11.17 aps while senior middle hitter Mindi Wiley leads the team in hitting (.329) and blocks (1.05 bps). Senior libero Kristen Kathan leads the Bears in digs with 3.77 dps.