Volleyball records come to those who can jump. So says Leland Quinn, a sophomore outside hitter at UC Irvine.
As a high school senior, Quinn once dunked on Cherokee Parks, then of Marina High and now of NCAA champion Duke, during a basketball game.
Back then, Quinn, who played at Ocean View, thought of volleyball as a beach game to play only when the waves were flat and the surfing was lousy. He wasn't serious about playing volleyball, and he wasn't sure he was very good, anyway.
Having chucked basketball for a volleyball scholarship at Irvine, Quinn still wonders if he's really that talented at the sport.
He has few doubts about his leaping ability, however. Above all else, he said, it's led him to a school-record 398 kills this season. Quinn passed Steve Florentine's 1990 record of 379 kills with 27 during a four-game loss to Cal State Northridge Saturday at Crawford Hall.
"I'm still not a good volleyball player as far as knowing the game," Quinn said. "There's one thing I can do, and that's jump. And I can swing my arm."
Luckily for Quinn, there's not much finesse involved in killing a volleyball. It's a simple three-step process: a spring from the legs, a swing from his left arm and a spike from his hand.
"Not to belittle the record," Quinn said, "but I didn't put a lot of thought into it."
It simply happened, he said.
The power from his 6-foot-8, 215-pound frame sends the ball hurling over the net at close to 100 m.p.h. Often, he has caught his opponents a step slow in getting their hands up, and they have paid with a shot to the nose.
Once, he bloodied a George Mason player's lip.
"He was swearing at me for the rest of the match," Quinn said, smiling. "You don't have time to move when the ball is coming at you at 100 m.p.h."
Spiking a volleyball off someone's noggin is roughly akin to dunking a basketball over someone, according to Quinn.
But there is more to the game than brute power, and Quinn said he's determined to learn more about volleyball's subtle side from Anteater Coach Bill Ashen.
With the season kill record all his, Quinn would like to turn his attention to making Irvine more competitive in the Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. next season.
Irvine (5-18, 2-13 in the WIVA) plays its final match against Pepperdine, at 7:30 tonight at Malibu.
Most nights this season the Anteaters have been overmatched against some of the top-ranked teams in the country.
"You considered it an easy night when you're playing No. 8 in the nation," Quinn said. "We never have a boring night."
And certainly, there's never a dull moment with Quinn leaping to hammer another ball over the net.
Vince O'Boyle, Anteater track and field coach, will be the first to admit he had little to do with a second-place finish by the U.S. women's team at the world cross-country championships March 21 in Boston.
His role as the U.S. women's coach was more like that of a team manager, making sure the runners were familiar with the 6,000-meter course, planning strategy for the start and getting them loaded up on pasta the night before the race.
All the real training had been done by the runners' own coaches weeks before.
Still, it was a memorable experience for O'Boyle, who was making his international coaching debut.
"I'd been an Olympic Festival coach for two years, but this was much, much different," he said. "You couldn't compare the two things. This was something I'll always remember."
He said it was a pleasure to watch Lynn Jennings of Newmarket, N.H., win her third consecutive individual championship in leading the United States to a second-place finish behind Kenya. It was the best U.S. women's finish since 1987, when the team won the title.
"Lynn Jennings is one of the most focused, most intense human beings I've been around," O'Boyle said.
Add Track: It doesn't figure to be nearly as glamorous as the world cross-country championships, but O'Boyle's Anteater teams face a gritty challenge when they meet Fresno State and San Diego State in a tri-meet Saturday at Fresno.
"Fresno State is going to be pretty tough with their depth, and having it (in Fresno) makes it interesting," O'Boyle said. "It's always tough to win at their place."
Fresno's Warmerdam Field will be the site of the Big West Conference championships May 8-9.
Last week, the men's and women's teams fanned out to three meets.
At the Texas Relays in Austin, Tex., Marieke Veltman scored a personal best and surpassed the NCAA provisional qualifying mark by scoring 5,172 points in the heptathlon. She had personal bests in the 100-meter low hurdles (14.22 seconds) and shotput (33 feet, 6 inches) and finished sixth.
Matt Farmer finished third in the decathlon with 7,117 points and came away with a personal-best throw of 200-11 in the javelin.
At the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz., Sarah Andrews had the second-longest discus throw in school history with her mark of 160-9. She began the season with a personal best of 148-10.