Robert Samuelson's explanation of how he became a member of the Cal State Northridge volleyball team is simple--he just could not wait to play for USC.
Samuelson was the California junior college player of the year in 1986 when he helped lead Pierce to a 24-1 record and the state title. He was recruited by USC but was told that he would not be allowed to transfer until the following spring because of scholarship limitations.
Samuelson decided that becoming a Trojan was not worth the wait, so he called Northridge Coach John Price on the first day of school and received permission to become a Matador.
"I'm happy at Northridge," said Samuelson. "Sometimes they say it's better to be a big fish in a little pond than a small fish in a big one."
Samuelson, a 6-5, 225-pound outside hitter who redshirted last season along with UCLA transfer Jeff Campbell, is making a big splash for the 11th-ranked Matadors this year and will attempt tonight to show that he made a wise decision when Northridge (3-7, 0-2 in conference play), visits USC for a Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match with the third-ranked Trojans (11-1, 3-0) who have been national runners-up three years in a row.
"He's extremely talented," CSUN Coach John Price said. "He's a guy that's going to get better every match."
Samuelson, the one that got away, is anxious to show USC that sometimes it pays not to wait.
"I'm looking to prove myself in every match," he said, "and make a name for CSUN volleyball."
Super representation: Chuck Ferrero, football coach at Valley College, spent Super Bowl Sunday in San Diego watching two former Monarch players help the Washington Redskins to victory.
Ferrero received an invitation and tickets to the game from Redskin kick returner Eric Yarber, who played at Valley in 1983 and 1984. Redskin defensive back Vernon Dean played at Valley in 1978 and 1979.
Valley also was represented on the losing side in the person of Lyle Pickens, a defensive back on the Denver taxi squad.
Big hitter: UC Davis defensive tackle Tim Lajcik, who graduated Thousand Oaks High in 1983, was the winner of the Jerry Norris Award as the team's most valuable and inspirational player.
Lajcik, 6-2, 222 pounds, also was named Northern California Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and a first-team Division II All-American by Football News magazine.
Tennis opener: The Cal State Northridge women's tennis team begins its season Tuesday with a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. match at Cal State Los Angeles.
CSUN Coach Tony Davila, whose team finished ninth in Division II last season (16-10), once again will be competitive in a conference that includes second-ranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Missy Conn, who finished second at nationals in 1986 then sat out last season, returns for her senior year.
Other returning players include sophomores Nicole Gillis and Alison Kincaid and juniors Suzi Izmirian and Kris Anderson.
Treading water: CSUN swimming Coach Pete Accardy is awaiting final grade determinations on key members of the men's and women's teams.
Michelle Sulak, a freshman who already has qualified for nationals in four freestyle events, is at least temporarily ineligible.
Kurt White, whose 4:07 time in the 400 individual medley is the fastest in Division II, is ineligible to compete for the men's team.
If he is reinstated, White will swim the 200 IM, the 400 IM and the 200 back at the national meet, scheduled March 9-12 in Buffalo, N.Y.
On the bright side: Northridge added a swimmer on each team who should help its cause at the nationals.
On a referral from Ohio State Coach Jim Montrela, the CSUN women picked up Chris Breedy, who swims freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
Breedy, who hails from Concord, Calif., the home of former CSUN All-American Jeff Kubiak, qualified for nationals in the 200 back the first meet she was eligible.
Accardy said Stacy Mettam and Breedy could finish 1-2 at the nationals.
Strange but true: Kubiak, a seven-time national champion and a Pan-American Games record-holder in the 200 breaststroke, is gone but Northridge may be stronger in his specialty.
Northridge already has qualified four swimmers in the 200 breaststroke, and two others probably will join them.
Jesse Kelly, Jay Keeley, Steve Kirkland and Mike Cruz already have met the national qualifying standard. Doug Koehler and Ryan Ramsey are expected to qualify at the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. meet in Bakersfield on Feb. 18-21.
Call to arms: Moorpark College softball Coach Will Thurston is hoping two good arms will be better than one--or at least as good as one, anyway.
Thurston's--and the Lady Raiders'--hopes of repeating as Western State Conference champions could rest with freshman pitchers De Dow and Janeen Duncan, who will try to replace graduated star Karen Mead, the WSC pitcher of the year last season.
Mead finished with a 27-12 record, while Moorpark was 27-13, so Dow and Duncan will have their work cut out for them.