Al Gasparian didn't see many familiar faces at Golden West's first women's volleyball practice in August.
He had only one returning player--sophomore Kathy Wissman.
With three weeks before his first match, Gasparian had 10 women who never played together before. He had 11 two weeks later when Dionne Powers gave up a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton and decided to play at Golden West.
"You get them how they are and make what you can out of them," Gasparian said. "In the following spring and summer we can work on changing things like an arm swing. . . . There's just not enough time before the season."
Gasparian transformed this season's team into an instant winner. The Rustlers opened with six consecutive victories and were the state's top-ranked team.
Then the Rustlers (4-3, 7-3) lost three straight South Coast Conference matches to current No. 1 El Camino, Cerritos and Pasadena. It marked the first time a Gasparian-coached team lost three straight.
Injuries played a part in the defeats. Barrie Dafforn hurt her right arm, Powers hurt her foot and Leslie Osterman was bothered by a sore tooth that required surgery. Each missed at least one match.
"It was just ridiculous," Gasparian said. "I guess you could say we were in a legitimate slump, but the injuries didn't help any."
The Rustlers defeated Long Beach City, 3-0, last Friday to snap the streak and are in a four-way tie for second place in the conference with Fullerton, Cerritos and Pasadena. El Camino leads the conference.
The first and second-place teams advance to the Southern California Regionals.
"I'm not writing off the season yet," Gasparian said. "We played five of the first six games on the road and we get them at home this time around."
Golden West has advanced to the regionals each of Gasparian's first three years.
Last season, Golden West (14-4) won the conference and was third in the regionals.
In 1984, the Rustlers (20-1) were state, regional and conference champions.
In 1983, the Rustlers (15-8) won the South Coast Conference, were second in the regionals and third in the state.
Bret Mersola, Saddleback College wide receiver, set the regular-season Orange County reception record Saturday in the Gauchos' 62-7 victory over San Diego City. Mersola, a sophomore, had 9 catches Saturday to give him 67 in seven games.
The record of 62 was set in 1982 by John Marshall, also of Saddleback. With three games left, Mersola is already the career leader at Saddleback with 119 catches.
Golden West (4-0, 7-0) continues its drive for the South Coast Conference football title Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Fullerton (2-2, 3-4) in Fullerton District Stadium Stadium. In the Mission Conference: Palomar (4-2, 5-2) plays at Saddleback (4-2, 5-2), Citrus (2-4, 2-5) plays Rancho Santiago (3-3, 4-3) at Santa Ana Stadium and San Diego City (0-6, 1-6) plays at Orange Coast (2-4, 2-5). All games are at 7:30 p.m.
Glendale (8-0) stayed on top of the national and Southern California polls this week and Golden West jumped to second in Southern California after Riverside (6-1) was upset by San Diego Mesa, 35-32. The Tigers fell to third. Saddleback, which led the poll the first four weeks, is fifth after losing two straight.
Golden West moved from sixth to fourth in the national poll.
After winning the Orange Empire Conference meet last Friday, the Orange Coast College men's and women's cross-country teams compete in the Southern California Regionals Friday at Vista's Guajome Park. The Saddleback women's team also advanced to the regionals.
The top five men's and women's teams in the regionals advance to the state meet Nov. 15 in Fresno.
Rancho Santiago linebacker Tim Lynch, who has been bothered by injuries all season, was hit in the back of his left knee while making a tackle in the second half of the Dons' 30-9 victory over Palomar. He will miss at least the next two weeks.
Lynch, a sophomore from El Modena High School, was already playing with a cast on his left hand because of two broken knuckles and a taped right hand because of a thumb injury.
Earlier this season, he sprained his ankle and injured his hip but continued to play.
Against Palomar, Lynch intercepted a pass in the second quarter by batting it up and then catching it.
"I'm no tougher than anybody else out there," said Lynch as he stood on crutches late in the fourth quarter of the Palomar game. "I just want to play."