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COLLEGES / ALAN OTA : Northridge Tries for Another Win at Pepperdine

March 25, 1993|ALAN OTA

When the Pepperdine men's volleyball team plays host to Cal State Northridge tonight, the third-ranked Waves (13-3, 10-3 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) will be out to avenge a loss two weeks ago to the No. 4 Matadors (14-5, 8-3).

Pepperdine led the match, 2-0, but Northridge stormed back to win three games. The loss cost the Waves the nation's No. 1 ranking.

Although the Waves are 9-0 at Firestone Fieldhouse this year, the Matadors have not lost at Malibu in three seasons and have a 7-1 record against Pepperdine since 1990.

"Every team gets fired up for them," Northridge assistant Jeff Campbell said. "And for some reason, we've always played well against them in the past few years. But in our earlier match, I don't think either team played exceptional. Pepperdine may have just eased up after being ahead."

Northridge setter Matt Unger, a 6-foot senior from Palisades High, had a season-high 90 assists, and All-American senior Ken Lynch, a 6-foot-5 middle blocker, had 38 kills against Pepperdine.

Northridge lost a four-game match to San Diego State last weekend and hit .318 and had seven team blocks compared to the Aztecs'.422 hitting percentage and 21 team blocks.

Pepperdine has won all its matches since the defeat to the Matadors. The Waves have seen outstanding defensive play by junior outside hitter Dain Blanton, who is second in the conference with 3.00 digs a game.

Tonight's match will be telecast by Prime Ticket at 7.

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UCLA Coach Bob Larsen, whose men's track team has lost only one dual meet in nine years, will have a formidable challenge when it competes in a double-dual meet with California and Texas on Saturday at Berkeley.

"A lot of coaches I've talked with are saying Cal is capable of winning the Pac-10 and all their duals," Larsen said. "And Texas just won the (Southwest Conference indoor meet)."

Cal junior Chris Huffins and senior Reggie Williams are capable of winning several events.

Huffins, who recently scored 7,920 points in the decathlon, is an outstanding sprinter (10.39 seconds in the 100, 21.34 in the 200), hurdler (14.14), long and triple jumper (26-5 and 52-11 1/2).

"He's a wonderful athlete," Larsen said. "He's in excellent shape. And he's scary."

Williams has bests of 1:48.94 in the 800, 3:44.76 in the 1,500 and 14:18.84 in the 5,000, which are faster times than any UCLA runner. And in previous meets against the Bruins, Williams has competed in all three events.

Cal Coach Irv Hunt isn't sure which events Huffins and Williams will enter.

"It depends on how the meet goes," he said. "If after it gets under way and we start getting blown out, then I'll just hold them back."

Cal is also bolstered by the return of senior Ramon Jimenez-Gaona, a 1992 Olympian from Paraguay who was the NCAA runner-up in the discus with a best of 210-11.

Texas Coach Stan Huntsman will be looking forward to seeing the first outdoor competition for several freshmen, including Bob Johnson, ranked third as a prep nationally in the javelin with a best of 220-0; Wayne Guidry, who had the third best high school pole vault last year with a 17-2; and sprinter Shane Pratt, one of the nation's top six prep sprinters who ran 10.44 in the 100 and 21.08 in the 200.

"We know Shane is strong, but we don't know how sharp he is as yet," Huntsman said. "He ran fairly well on several relay legs indoors."

Texas senior Olympian Du'aine Ladejo, who won a bronze medal on Great Britain's 1,600-meter relay team at Barcelona and has a best of 45.25 in the 400, strained his hamstring in the NCAA indoor meet. According to Huntsman, he probably will run only the 800, in which he has a best of 1:52.70.

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