The Cal State Fullerton women's volleyball team, victim of a budget cut last January, winner of a lengthy legal battle last spring and survivor of several defections over the summer, opens its 1992 season at 5 tonight against the University of San Diego in the sixth Anteater Invitational at UC Irvine's Crawford Hall.
UC Irvine will play Eastern Washington at 7 p.m., and four games are scheduled among the teams Saturday.
The Titan volleyball team, dropped in January but reinstated as part of an out-of-court settlement of its lawsuit against the school, lost four starting underclassmen from last year's team, including All-Big West Conference selection Becky Howlett. The four transferred in the wake of the legal fight.
Sophomore Kristin Sharples is the lone returning starter for Fullerton, which has a new coach (former UCI assistant Mary Ellen Murchison) and was picked to finish last in the Big West. UC Irvine, picked to finish sixth, is led by seniors Scotleen Risley, Wendy Kohler, Anastasia Arnold and Kris Puttier.
Three local soccer teams also will open their seasons this weekend. The Titan men play host to UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. Saturday in their new on-campus stadium. The Anteater men will play host to The Master's College at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and the women will play host to Santa Clara at 1 p.m. Saturday at Crawford Field.
The Fullerton and Irvine men's teams are part of the new 16-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which includes teams from the Big West, Pacific 10 and Western Athletic conferences. The Titans and Anteaters are in the Pacific Division along with UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, Nevada Las Vegas, San Diego State and New Mexico.
Fullerton returns six starters from last year's 10-10 team, including all-conference, first-team fullback Ken Hesse and second-team selections Mike Ammann (goalie) and Ricky Rodriguez (forward). Coach Al Mistri said he has a solid group of newcomers headed by Eddie Soto, a sophomore forward who transferred from Chapman.
The Anteaters, under Coach Derek Lawther, will be led by seniors Kevin Smith and David Weidner. Smith is UCI's all-time leading scorer with 48 points, and Weidner was the leading scorer on last year's 9-10 team with 13 points. Goalie Chris Taylor, who had 59 saves and four shutouts in 1991, also returns.
The Anteater women, coming off a school-best 12-7-1 season, return seven starters: Shawna Berke, Jenni Tanaka, Kerry McGrath, Christina Awadallah, Lori Muzzonigro, Katie Ralph and Amee Chapman.
The Titan Sports Complex Grand Opening 5K Run/Walk will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday, beginning near Cal State Fullerton's new on-campus stadium and ending on the school's new track. Race-day registration (entry fee of $20) begins at 7 a.m. in front of Titan Gym. All registered participants receive a T-shirt and complimentary ticket to the sports complex opening doubleheader featuring the Titan soccer and football teams. The top three finishers in each division will receive two season tickets to the Fullerton sport of their choice.