Given Hana's ferocity on the court, I always found the ribbons in her hair ironic.
What is the Big Spike?? It's #12 Cal vs #10 Stanford, at Haas. Since this is volleyball it usually means that two national title contenders are battling it out for poll position and pride. In addition, the Big Spike always showcases at least five or six future Olympians. http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/092209aaa.html
THE BIG SPIKE is this Friday, 7pm at Haas. Students get in free. Go watch some world class volleyball and support our Bears. Here's the info:
THE MATCH UP
It's not often that both Stanford and Cal go through, "a rebuilding year" at the same time. Both teams lost a lot of key seniors last year. We lost one to the US National team and one to the Spanish pros. Stanford lost two to the US National team. However, both teams are still stacked with talent... just not as much as last year. Some comparisons:
Record / Ranking:
Cal - (7-3, #12)
Stanford - (7-3, #10)
Key wins to date:
Cal - Beat #4 Hawaii @ Hawaii
Stanford - None
Key losses to date:
Cal - UC Irvine @ neutral, #2 Texas @ neutral, #19 St. Louis @ neutral
Stanford - Notre Dame @ Notre Dame, #4 Florida @ neutral, #4 Hawaii @ Hawaii
Hitting % / Opponent Hitting %:
Cal - (.259 / .174)
Stanford - (.298 / .203)
Set W/L vs common opponents/locations to date (#4 Hawaii, St. Mary's, USF):
Cal - 9 sets won, 3 sets lost
Stanford - 6 sets won, 5 sets lost
2008 Big Spike Recap
No service errors - I think if we commit less than one service error per set during this match, we win. I bet my left nut. We're currently averaging two per set. Champions average 1.5 per set. The score is going to be close so this can be the tipping point. Hana and Carli are serving like crap lately, but if they both have a good serving day, we win.
Don't let Klineman beat us - For some reason, we always shut down Lichtman (currently their best hitter) but Klineman always plays unusually well against us. In general, Klineman is a star but she really likes playing Cal.
Don't let Tarrah hit too much - Tarrah is currently hitting .122. Fucking .122!! She's our second hardest hitter and a great decoy, but she's a liability at this point. At Hawaii, when we stopped setting to Tarah, we started to dominate. When we let her hit, we started losing.
Unleash Hana and slide Mindi - Let's let Hana hit a TON and use the slide with Mindi. It's been unstoppable so far. Plus, let's stop quick-setting Tarah down the pipe.
Relax - Our two teams are about equal this year. The team that minimizes mistakes, wins.
Mindi Wiley (6'3, Middle Blocker, Senior) - This is Mindi's team now. She's the defacto leader and she's playing like one too. She's hitting .374 and already has 39 blocks at a rate of 1.0 block/set... simply awesome. Nobody has been able to stop her slide shot and she's zooming all over the court. With Tarah in a slump, Mindi needs to have a great day for us to win.
Carli Lloyd (5'11, Quarterback, Junior) - Carli has been her usual, incredible self in terms of setting but is having problems with her serve. However, she is much smarter this year, setting into the weak spots of the defense. Her finesse game has been really effective too. Most importantly, she already has 35 blocks at .92 blocks/set. At 5'11, that's just incredible. She's probably the second best setter in the NCAA right now.
Hana Cutura (6'5 Outside Hitter, Senior) - What more can I say? Hana is a goddess and is probably worth millions of Euros at this very moment. She's hitting .301 with 188 kills at 5 kills/set. She also has 21 blocks at .55 blocks/set. It's crazy that she usually gets better as we get into conference play. If you can hit 5 kills/set, you can make first-team All American. Oh wait, she IS a first-team All American! And she's easily the best player in the Pac-10. She's our key to victory. (2008 CAL SPORTS REPORT FEATURE ON HANA)
Tarah Murrey (6'3, Outside Hitter, Soph) - Tarah's job is to just minimize her mistakes. Sure, she can hit the ball 80mph, but she can't keep it in bounds. She can block and draw the defense but with a hitting percentage of .122, her arm is more of a liability at this point. If her slump doesn't end soon, this could be a long season.
Correy Johnson (6'4, Position Unknown, True Frosh) - What a freshman! We're using her at middle, for slides and having her hit outside. She does everything. She's already out-blocking Hana and her height is forcing offenses to work around her. Her arm strength is just okay, but her aim is not bad. She's hitting .242 with 48 kills at 1.3 kills/set. She also has 23 blocks at .61 blocks/set.
Robin Rostratter (6'0, Defensive Specialist, True Frosh) - She's becoming our most efficient serve specialist. I think she's less error prone than Ashley or Megan and her placement is just as good. However, since the Daily Cal won't report on why her arm was in a frickn sling two weeks ago, I have no idea if she's going to play.
Tia Gaffen (6'3, Middle Blocker, True Frosh) - Tia and Kat will both be playing in place of injured Shannon. Tia has good hops and a very strong arm. I've been very pleased with Tia's blocking skills. She gets really pumped up when she plays and seems to have that killer instinct. She hitting .233 with 12 kills and has 9 blocks at .75 blocks/set.
Kristen Kathan (5'6, Libero, Senior) - Kristen's primary job is to chase down serves and pass well so that Carli can set up the offense. She also can take out the other team's biggest hitter by digging the big spikes. She keeps the score low. However, she's not having a great season thus far, but I know she has the talent to bounce back.
Rich Feller (5'10, Head Thinking Guy, Old dude) - I am really digging his timeout strategy so far. Almost every timeout has resulted in the momentum shifting and his half-time adjustments are translating into points. That's the mark of a good coach. He's definitely trying to make our offense multi-dimensional this year with more inside/outside and finesse shots. Of course, this has made us more error prone, but I know he's doing this so we can be more competitive versus the taller teams.
INJURED / OUT
Shannon Hawari (6'2, Middle Blocker, Soph) - Shannon is out for the season with a busted knee. What sucks is before she went down, she was blocking her way to All Pac-10 honors at .85 blocks/set. Sure, now she gets to do her hair and wear makeup to games, but that really doesn't help us win games. We're going to miss her.
Stanford has been the best team in the country for a decade, but they're in flux right now. They lost Barbosa and Falouke and they're not the same. They're vulnerable.
They use a spread-option offense called the 6-2, which looks very similar to Chip Kelly's offense. They use two setters (QBs) but both of the setters will also behave like hitters (think A-11). They run a lot of fakes and will sometimes have the back-court setter step up and attack. The downside of this offense is that it's error prone.... they basically can out-think themselves.
Cassidy Lichtman (6'1, Outside Hitter/Setter, Junior): Lick-man is on fiya this season. She already has 122 kills at 3.4 kills/set with a percentage of .341. For some reason however, she sucks when playing Cal. She moves around a lot so we need to key in on her.
Alix Klineman (6'4, Outside Hitter, Junior) - She's a star. She's tall, jumps high, hits hard and she kicks ass against us. We can't stop her, but we need to contain her. However, since her surgery, she has not been the same. Perhaps this year we can finally own her. She's currently hitting .279.
Stephanie Browne (6'4, Middle Blocker/Outside Hitter, Soph) - Browne is someone we lost to the Furd. She's a Danville native and went to Monte Vista. Now she's kicking ass, hitting .333 with 60 kills.
Janet Okogbaa (6'3, Middle Blocker, Senior) - Damn, she just came out of nowhere. This Berkeley native is another traitor and she's finally hitting her stride. She's hitting .384 with 94 kills. Wow.
Alex Fisher (6'1, Outside Hitter, Senior) - Hahaha....she's a cancer to their team. She's dragging the team down by making stupid mistakes like net errors (she had four against USF). She's hitting .118 and we need her to screw up like usual for us to win. Actually, Fisher's bad play could be because of Karissa Cook's (backup setter) crappy sets. I don't know who's at fault, and I don't care. I just heard that both are playing like shit.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Hayley Spelman (6'6, Outside Hitter, True Frosh) - Oh great, Falouke is finally gone, but now we got to deal with this shit for the next four years? Fantastic.
She's the tallest girl in the '08 class and she can play. She's in the Fab50 and was declared the #3 HS player in the nation. She's currently hitting .252 with 53 kills. She's got 21 blocks at a rate of .68 blocks/set. However, that's not why I'm worried about her. I'm worried because she's so tall that everyone needs to play around her. BTW: She's actually about 6'7... for the taller girls, media guides tend to deflate this number.
Hayley is already the 2nd best blocker on a team that has always been great at blocking.
I gotta admit. She kinda scares me.
MEET THE BEARS
Hana Cutura (6'5, OH, Senior)
Carli Lloyd (5'11, S, Junior)
Mindi Wiley (6'3, MB, Senior)
Kristin Obermeyer (5'11, S, Soph)
Tarah Murrey (6'3, OH, Soph)
Shannon Hawari (6'2, MB, Soph)
Tia Gaffen (6'3, MB, True Frosh)
Robin Rostratter (6'0, DS, True Frosh)
Kristen Kathan (5'6, L, Senior)
Megan Schmitt (5'9, DS, Junior)