Bears Have Opponents' Strategies Stuck on Replay

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Members of the Cal volleyball team can be seen leaving Haas Pavilion with DVDs. And they're not copies of coach Rich Feller's favorite obscure foreign films.

The No. 2 Bears spend a considerable amount of time watching tape on the opposing teams, studying their attackers' angles and defensive configurations among other things.

Feller and his staff begins scouting their opponents' last two weeks of matches on Sunday night, and the team watches video every morning during the week leading up to a match.

And as if that isn't enough, the girls are given DVDs should they want to spend extra time looking at their looming adversaries. They also have binders filled with scouting reports generated by the coaches.

"Knowing what their primary shot is, what their go-to is on a good set it's a lot easier blocking," sophomore Correy Johnson said. "And then knowing their defense and what they do against certain hits is really beneficial as a hitter, knowing what's open."

When facing two teams in a weekend, Feller admits that it is tempting to focus more on the better squad. But the team insists that the official viewing time is divided equally.

They also view tape on their own past matches, which helps them isolate areas to improve.

There is an NCAA regulation limiting the amount of time that the coaches can require that the team be in the gym or watching tape.

According to Feller, the team misses that mark by five or six hours a week.

The 12th-year head coach is certain that other teams use all of their time.

"But they're not at Berkeley," Feller said.

Getting Jupiter Out of Orbit

In scouting USC this week, Cal has been keying in on the Trojans' outside hitter Alex Jupiter. The 6-foot-3 junior recorded 18 digs and four blocks in their squeaker over the Bears last month, but it's her offensive prowess that will challenge Cal's defense.

"She's a great attacker," senior Carli Lloyd said. "I don't think there's anyway you can ever shut down an attacker like that, but you can slow her down."

The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week, Jupiter currently ranks 13th in the country with 4.5 kills per set. She put up 24 kills against Cal, but that was off a .250 hitting percentage, well below her .302 season average.

"We just have to have disciplined defenders obviously in the back row and just having a big block in front of her and making her choose a side or a place to hit," Lloyd said.

That's what the Bears' defense does to hitters - the scorers still put up the kills, but they need a lot more attempts to do it against the second best blocking regiment in the country.

That approach was used two weeks ago against the conference's top scorer, Stanford's Alix Klineman, and worked mostly.

Klineman started off strong in the first set - the only set the Cardinal would win - but looked visibly frustrated as the match went on and her hitting percentage continued to drop. She finished with a match-high 22 kills, but had five errors and hit only .266, over 100 points lower than her season average.

"They're going to get their shots," Feller said of players like Jupiter and Klineman. "We just want to not give (Jupiter) freebies and not let her just swing at will, and make her work a little harder than she's normally used to. Hopefully with a pretty good blocking team, that works to our benefit."


Christina Jones and Jonathan Kuperberg cover volleyball. Contact them at [email protected]

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