It was late at night on November 25. California had just fallen to Stanford in Palo Alto in straight sets to end the season. Four-year starting libero Maddy Kerr knew it was the end of her illustrious career – one that Cal will look to fill in 2017.
Kerr came in to Cal as a freshman in 2013 and immediately dawned the libero jersey in her first ever match. She would continue to wear the specific uniform as she played in every set of every match the last four seasons for the Golden Bears. In total, she collected the second most career digs ever in program history (1,775) and earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention as a senior.
Cal has options to fill the void, as they have four defensive specialists/liberos on the roster. The favorite for the position is junior Amanda Kirtley, who appeared in 22 matches last season and averaged 1.84 digs per set. Also in the mix for defensive specialist roles are Kat Knop, who redshirted last season in her first year and is the younger sister of Florida All-American Caroline Knop, senior Gabby Deguzman and Hawaii transfer Emma Smith.
Beyond the loss of a four-year pillar at the libero position, Cal will feature a new head coach and an infusion of youth from a nationally heralded recruiting class.
Matt McShane takes over as head coach for Cal after Rich Feller retired following 18 seasons in April. In total, it has been since 1998 that Cal has had a new coach on the volleyball court, adding to another new feature for the Golden Bears in 2017. McShane was previously the associate head coach in 2016 after he left his head coaching position at Air Force. Prior to his time with the Falcons, McShane was an assistant at Cal from 2005-2009.
Joining Kerr and Feller in departures are three-year starters Alyssa Jensen (setter) and Jenelle Jordan (middle blocker). Cal will look to replace them with other letterwinners in the fold as well as a host of newcomers that made up PrepVolleyball’s 15th ranked recruiting class in the country. Nothing continues the theme of being new like five incoming freshmen. In total, three of them were PrepVolleyball Top 100 recruits in middle blockers Preslie Anderson (#38) and Lauren Forte (#43) and outside hitter Mima Mirkovic (#72).
As November 26 hit for Cal last year, they’re record from 2016 was wiped clean. With Kerr and company departing, Cal will look for their new start to be a strong one as they open up this weekend with UC Irvine, Loyola Chicago and Seattle.