Win Over Cougars Feller's 200th at Cal

Photo: Rich Feller coached his 200th win at Cal last Saturday against Washington State. In his 11 years with the Bears, Feller has taken the team to the NCAA tournament seven times.
Nick Fradkin/File
Rich Feller coached his 200th win at Cal last Saturday against Washington State. In his 11 years with the Bears, Feller has taken the team to the NCAA tournament seven times.

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The Cal volleyball team's 3-0 sweep of Washington State was more than just a crucial win in Pac-10 play for the Bears.

It was a landmark victory their 11-year coach, Rich Feller.

The win over the Cougars was the 200th in Feller's tenure at Cal, another benchmark in his decorated career with the Bears.

Feller's achievement was announced post-game, and based on the look on his face, it was probably the first time he'd really considered the scope of his success at Cal.

"Eleven years, 200 wins, 20 a year thereabouts," he calculated after the match.

His math is nearly accurate, but doesn't quite capture his tenure appropriately. Feller inherited a miserable squad in 1999-it had won just seven matches the year before. It took three years before Feller got the Bears to finish above .500 at the end of the season, but since then, Cal's been a bona fide national power.

The Bears have made seven consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament and finished the last six seasons ranked in the top 25. In 2007, Cal roared all the way to the semifinal match, the farthest it has ever gone.

Another victory will give Feller 500 for his career as a collegiate head coach but, true to form, Feller's not keen on taking any credit for himself.

"Really, it's 200 wins for Cal since I've been here," Feller said. "I've never scored a point, never served an ace, never gotten a kill. It says something about the program, where we've come."

Defensive Woes Appear on the Mend

Earlier in the season, No. 14 Cal was able to get away with being less scrappy than other teams, but five games of Pac-10 play have made the Bears' weakness very apparent: digging and passing.

Feller said after the Washington State match that Cal had fallen into a sense of complacency after beating unranked teams in the preseason, believing it could play at that level and still compete with top teams like Washington.

If the Bears needed a wake-up call, the sweep at the hands of the Huskies was it. Cal had just 24 digs against Washington and currently ranks 281st out of 318 Division I volleyball teams in digs per set (12.36).

The Bears may have turned that corner, though. The next day, in its three-set win against the Cougars, Cal had 41 digs and seemed to have regained the aggressiveness it was lacking in weeks prior.

"We made changes with ourselves," senior Mindi Wiley said. "Being disciplined and being fast and going hard. Putting pressure on the other team rather than rattling ourselves with bonehead plays."

Senior libero Kristen Kathan, who has had a pretty rough season so far-ranking ninth in the conference in digs per set-also looked much better.

"She made the correct digs, made a lot more plays (in the Washington State match)," Feller said. "She was in the right position a lot more often."

Roe Leaves the Bears

Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Roe has officially left the team after a reaching a mutual decision with the coaching staff to part ways.

During her two years at Cal, Roe saw minutes in 24 sets and recorded eight digs. This season, Roe played in 19 sets.


Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]

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