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UCLA Spiker Boyer Makes Stars of Others : One of 12 Children, She Learned Sharing at Home and Sets Up Mates

November 12, 1987|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

If you're one of 12 children like UCLA volleyball All-American Ann Boyer, you don't get much of a chance to grow up selfish. Your parents are too busy taking care of all the kids to give you more attention than you're due.

If you're in the middle of the bunch in age like Boyer, you also have to help out with younger siblings, baby-sitting your kid sisters or working at your mother's nursery school.

Fortunately for the Boyer clan, Ann, a junior setter in volleyball, seemed to like working with children--so much so that she is majoring in psychology and hopes one day to have her own preschool or work with children in some other way.

Fortunately for UCLA volleyball Coach Andy Banachowski, Boyer is also unselfish on the court. She likes setting up teammates with passes that give them easy chances to score on kills--and get the glory.

You won't find Boyer's name in the all-important kill column in the team's statistics. Most of the glory has been going to senior outside hitter Lori Zeno who leads the Bruins with an average of 4.16 kills a game and a hitting percentage of .309.

You won't find Boyer's name in the important categories of blocks and service aces. The leader is sophomore middle blocker Daiva Tomkus, who is averaging 1.6 blocks and has a total of 73 aces.

But if you look under assists, Boyer wins hands down--or more accurately, hands up. She usually has to have her palms upward to make passes, and, as UCLA's lone setter, she makes a lot. Last year she set a single-season school record for assists with 1,684.

In 30 games this season, Boyer has made 1,381 assists, a reason why UCLA was 23-7 overall as the week began and 10-3 and in second place behind Stanford (13-1) in the Pacific 10 Conference race. The equation goes something like this: no assists, no kills and, ergo , no wins.

If there is not much recognition for Boyer, at least from fans, she doesn't mind. She was recognized last year for her abilities by coaches and sportswriters. She was named to the College Volleyball Coaches Assn.-Russell All-American second team and and was selected as a third-team All-American by Volleyball Monthly. And Bruin hitters know who sets them up.

"I like to play for the team," said Boyer, adding that she doesn't mind the lack of recognition "as long as I'm happy with what I'm doing--and I am."

And Coach Banachowski is happy with her. He said that because she is a six-footer and left-handed, Boyer can do things that shorter right-handed players cannot.

"She's a tall setter and therefore saves a lot of bad passes that would normally go over the net to opponents," the UCLA coach said. "But she is tall enough to jump up and set."

Because she is a southpaw, he said, "she is in a little bit better position to attack the ball on the second contact.

"She can go ahead and hit it over (the net) a little quicker because her right shoulder is right alongside the net. A right-hander's back is almost facing her teammates, so it's easier for a lefty to take a swipe at the ball on a play like that.

"She also gives us a very good right-side block because of her height. That's a big plus over a smaller player."

Though Boyer is considered an ideal college setter, she started as a middle blocker, a position usually played by taller players. And she might not have taken up volleyball if she hadn't been spotted in a physical education class by Lisa Reis, girls volleyball coach at Poway High School northeast of San Diego.

"I found her as a sophomore, and she had never played volleyball before," Reis said. "I saw this tall left-handed girl and said, 'Gee.' And I asked her to come out for volleyball.

"She wasn't even a setter at first, but I noticed she should be one when she started playing her sophomore year. She had the most beautiful court sense and natural flow. With her body movement, without even knowing the game, she learned it real fast."

Coach Reis said she suggested that Boyer pursue becoming a setter. And she did.

Although Boyer wanted to become a hitter when she took up the game, she was converted to a setter after her high school sophomore year at a summer clinic run by a coach named Marlin Sano. Sano told her that she had the hands required by a setter, Boyer said.

She became so adept at that position that in her senior year she led Poway High to its first CIF-San Diego Section championship in volleyball and was named that section's player of the year. She has gone on to play for the U.S. junior national team and is considered a top candidate to set for the U.S. team at the 1992 Olympics.

Since Boyer graduated from Poway, the school has won two more CIF titles, largely because of the play of two other Boyers who are also setters: Cheri, a 6-1 senior who is considered one of the nation's top college recruits this year, and 5-9 (but growing) sophomore Amy. Amy is starting for Poway, but Cheri is not playing because she wanted to devote more time to studies.

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