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LONG BEACH STATE NOTEBOOK / JASON REID : 49ers Add to Big West Volleyball Title Collection

November 15, 1994|JASON REID

Winning four straight of anything is tough enough but try doing it in one of the nation's best conferences, playing other perennial national powers and facing All-Americans almost every night. Now that's an accomplishment.

The women's volleyball team achieved its quest to four-peat, winning the Big West Conference championship with a 6-15, 15-6, 15-13, 13-15, 15-12 victory over Pacific on Saturday night at Stockton. Understandably, Coach Brian Gimmillaro is quite pleased--and a bit surprised.

"We're playing in the best volleyball conference in the country and we've been real fortunate to win it four times in a row," Gimmillaro said. "From the first day (of practice), I didn't believe we were good enough to win it again.

"I'm just amazed how tough these kids are when they need to be. I'm really proud of them."

Long Beach (22-4 overall) finished 16-2 in conference play. The defending NCAA Division I champions have won 68 of 72 conference matches (94%) since the streak began in 1991. All-American outside hitter NichelleBurton and defensive specialist Prentice Perkins, seniors, are the only members of each championship team.

The 49ers, ranked sixth in the nation by Volleyball Monthly magazine, join Hawaii (1987-90) as the only teams to win four consecutive Big West volleyball titles. Long Beach is followed in the final league standings by Hawaii (22-4, 15-3), Pacific (21-4, 14-3) and UC Santa Barbara (23-6, 12-4).

Long Beach earned the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which begins Nov. 30. The 49ers have four nonconference matches remaining.

"I still would like us to get better," Gimmillaro said, "and we have a few more weeks before the playoffs start to still develop."

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Top player: Senior middle blocker Traci Dahl is the conference's player of the week.

Dahl was a key in the title-clinching match against Pacific with 22 kills and 12 blocks. In the deciding fifth game, Dahl scored six of Long Beach's 15 points with four kills and two blocks. Her match-high 11 block assists are a career-high.

"Traci took over the match," Gimmillaro said. "She is one of the top middle blockers if not the top one in the country."

Said Dahl: "I just wanted to go out and have a blast my senior year and I am."

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Almost done: Mercifully, the water polo team is about to come out of the pool for the final time this season.

The injury-plagued team lost its two games in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament to UC Irvine on Friday, 16-10, and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, 14-4. Stanford defeated USC, 17-7, to win the championship.

Long Beach, which is 5-18, 0-8 in the MPSF, closes its season at noon Saturday at Pepperdine.

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Back on the court: The women's basketball team lost, 68-66, to 49er alumni Saturday at The Gold Mine.

Senior forward Melissa Gower led Long Beach with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Center Cindy Brown paced the alumni team with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"I was pleased with the execution of our offense," 49er Coach Glenn McDonald said. "We were being patient. Last year we averaged (about) 25 turnovers a game and that started right from the beginning.

"Saturday night we had 15 turnovers. This year I think we'll have more opportunities to score because we're being more patient and more selective with our passes."

Notes

The women's cross-country team finished 13th at the District 8 Championships in Tucson, and the men were 15th. Sonya Berro paced the 49er women, finishing 44th overall. She ran the 5,000-meter course in 19 minutes 6 seconds.

Pat Bendzick ran the fastest time for the men, finishing in 67th place after running the 10,000-meter course in 34:30 seconds. . . . The women's golf team finished 15th at the San Diego State Fall Classic, which took place Monday through Wednesday. Cindy Rendon was 33rd with a score of 259. Men's basketball Coach Seth Greenberg is scheduled to discuss college basketball today on XTRA (690-AM) from 2-2:30 p.m. with talk-show host Jim Rome. The men's basketball team plays the Mexican National team in an exhibition 7:30 p.m. Friday at the San Diego Sports Arena.

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