Burroughs High girls volleyball Coach Linda Murphy claims to have started in the "punch-and-cookies era" of women's collegiate athletics.
"The game wasn't as aggressive as it is now," said Murphy, who graduated from San Fernando Valley State (now called Cal State Northridge) and played on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team. "We were just learning how to fall and dive with no one teaching us the proper techniques."
Murphy, who is 6-3 1/2, learned quickly about highly competitive volleyball. She played on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1967 Pan American Games, still the only gold won by an American women's volleyball team in international competition.
Murphy, in her first year at Burroughs, has brought stability to a program that saw five different coaches come and go within a five-year span.
The Indians are 12-2 overall and 4-1 in the Foothill League following Tuesday night's win over Burbank, their cross-town rival, 15-9, 6-15, 15-5 and 18-16.
"It's really been fun coaching this team," Murphy said. "The strength of this group is its ability to play together. There is no most valuable player. Everyone contributes."
The team's balance was in evidence Tuesday night. Burroughs was without senior outside hitter Jodi Henderson, who suffered a sprained ankle last week when a San Gabriel player fell on Henderson's foot after a block attempt.
The Indians pulled together against Burbank, though, to pull off the win.
This isn't the first time that Murphy has coached a winner. She guided the women's team at Cal State Northridge from 1973 to 1976 and qualified for the national playoffs in 1975 and 1976.
Murphy has taught at John Muir Junior High in Burbank for 16 years. She always wanted to coach high school volleyball, but class schedules and district policy kept her from leaving the junior high campus to coach elsewhere.
Murphy credits Madge Lamb at Muir and Tim Buchanan at Burroughs for helping her get the Burroughs job. Buchanan is used to having a successful girls volleyball program. He was formerly the principal of Rim of the World High in Lake Arrowhead, the top-ranked team in the the 3-A Division and a perennial power in the sport.
Murphy seems to be laying the foundation for a strong program at Burroughs. This season, the Indians have only lost an early-season match to St. Genevieve and last week's match with defending Foothill League champ San Gabriel.
"We lost early in the season to St. Genevieve because we were playing too carefully," Murphy said. "I told the girls, 'You don't get any better being careful. Go after it.' "
Murphy's Indians followed that battle cry and have been on a war path ever since.
Kennedy High will begin to defend its share of the City Section boys soccer title today when the Golden Cougars take on Franklin at 2:30 at Kennedy.
Last season, Kennedy won a two-day, 18-overtime, 1-0, semifinal game with Jefferson before tying Garfield, 0-0, to claim part of the championship.
Kennedy Coach Fred Singer has lost All-City forward Paul Plyler and All-Mid Valley League fullback Manny Gonzalez to graduation, but the Cougars still have plenty of talent returning.
"We'll be strong defensively," Singer said. "But, I'm not sure who we're going to rely on for scoring power."
Four players who were all-league as juniors are back for their senior seasons. Goalie Josh Kaplow, center-halfback Greg Friedman, half back Andy Greene and Mark Singer, the coach's son, should give Kennedy a foundation for another Mid-Valley League title and, possibly, a City section championship.
Other Valley-area teams that figure to contend for league titles include L.A. Games champion San Fernando, North Hollywood and Granada Hills.
Three major cross-country meets are being held Friday and Saturday in the Valley-area and all three feature outstanding runners from some of the California Interscholastic Federation's top-ranked schools.
Simi Valley, rated first in the Southern Section 4-A division, leads the field that will be competing in the Ventura County Cross-Country Championships Friday at 3 p.m. at Moorpark College.
On Saturday, The Los Angeles County Cross-Country Championships, a first-year meet co-sponsored by Saugus, Hart and Canyon High schools, will take place at College of the Canyons.
The 40-team meet will also feature the Loyola boys team and the Tracy Williams-led Mountain View girls team, both ranked first in the Southern Section 2-A Division.
Also on Saturday, the Northridge Invitational at Cal State Northridge will feature a couple of Mid-Valley League powers. The Birmingham boys team will be led by Sven Haug and Jeff Korn, and the Kennedy girls team should do well behind Sherrie Lawson and Kim Crongeyer.
The Calabasas water polo team has climbed into the Top-10 of the Southern Section's 2-A division. The Coyotes are ranked ninth. . . . The Chaminade girls volleyball team remained unbeaten in nine San Fernando Valley League games with a win Tuesday over rival Louisville. Daiva Tomkus led the Eagles with 13 blocks and 15 kills. Kathy Ahl had 12 kills and Melissa Ingalls had 11.