Throw the home-team, home-court, home-fan advantage out the gym door; the Cal Poly (San Louis Obispo) women's volleyball team certainly did. The Division II school nearly chucked UCLA's 1984 national championship trophy with it Saturday night as the Mustangs upset the second-ranked Bruins to win the National Invitational volleyball tournament at Pauley Pavilion. The scores were 15-12, 12-15, 15-13, 15-13.
Despite the fact that Cal Poly (15-1) is ranked No. 7 in one poll, the win came as a shock to the Bruins and the crowd of 1,500.
"This was a great win for us," Cal Poly Coach Mike Wilton said. "This team showed a lot of heart. In all the team meetings before this tournament, I kept spelling Pauley Pavilion, P-O-L-Y. I guess that worked."
It wasn't so much what worked but what didn't work for UCLA (10-3). The squad that won the national championship, largely on its ability to pull together, pulled and pulled Saturday night, but not often in the same direction.
"They were much steadier than we were," UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski said. "That's one thing we don't do well, be patient. The kids wanted it, you can see that by the way they are now."
Banachowski gestured to his team, which was sprawled in various stages of exhaustion on the wooden floor.
The Bruins began by kicking in to a characteristically conservative mode. After dropping the first game, they began using more deceptive plays. When UCLA was running a smooth offense, a brick wall couldn't have stopped the spikes from falling.
Most in evidence was outside hitter Liz Masakayan. The senior from Santa Monica was powerful as usual, registering 23 spikes. Sophomore Lori Zeno had a match-high 28.
Ellen Bugalski had 18 spikes to lead the Mustangs.
While the Bruins, with 14 team members, were able to substitute often, the Mustangs used the same 6 players for the entire match. Fatigue was a factor for Cal Poly at the end of the four-day tournament. The Mustangs' small roster (8 players) put a strain on its players.
"Our kids didn't get much rest," Wilton said. "I have one really green freshman sitting on the bench and one very injured player. We played with all we had."
Cal Poly made the most of its team. Although UCLA has more talented players, Cal Poly's players kept their poise and played more intelligent volleyball.