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4 Hours : The Sub

There was nothing special about Tuesday, Oct. 9, 1996. Around Orange County there was a heavy girls' volleyball schedule. Hundreds of people were involved as athletes, coaches, officials and fans. For four hours, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., life went on--unrehearsed. Like it always does.

November 05, 1996|MARTIN HENDERSON

The first thing out of Ann Buch's mouth, even before disbursing the pre-match Rice Krispies treats her mom made, is the question of the day: "What are you going to be for Halloween?"

It is 75 minutes before Cypress takes the floor and reels off three consecutive victories over Kennedy, keeping alive a streak in which the Centurions have won seven in a row over Empire League opponents--all in three games.

The question is directed at Stacy Silva, Buch's best friend on the volleyball team, but it quickly spreads like a virus. Buch says she will be a flamenco dancer, but before the conversation is two minutes old, Silva already has swayed Buch's opinion.

OK, she's going to go to school dressed as Pebbles. Silva will be Wilma. Another friend will be Fred Flintstone. Barney and Betty are also accounted for.

Rice Krispies treats for everyone.

This is Buch's world. She is a co-captain, along with Michelle Woiemberghe, a senior who is one of Cypress' best players.

Buch is a part-timer who subs in and out of the lineup. She's a decent back-row player--a 5-foot-4 defensive specialist--who could easily be replaced if she were to blow off volleyball for one of the three dance classes she has scheduled that night. There is no volleyball scholarship, or even a second look from a recruiter, in her future.

She was involved in club volleyball for 3 1/2 years ("I wanted to get good enough to make the high school team") before quitting in midseason before her sophomore year because it became too much of a drain on her time. Her world doesn't revolve around volleyball.

"If I didn't enjoy it," she says of her high school team, "I would quit in about two seconds."

Buch is an inspirational player, whose words of encouragement during a match are often all a teammate has in an opposing gym. As the match draws closer, with Buch's first serve 30 minutes away, teammates giggle but Buch isn't nearly as animated--except when she yawns, which is often. She went to bed at 11:30 the night before, after again reading European history for an hour in bed. She arose at 6:30 a.m.

She attributes her stony presence amid others' giddiness to having learned the inherent threat that accompanies sports--or a live dance performance: "Anything can happen," she says.

But on this night, it doesn't. Buch plays solidly, makes only a couple passing errors, and the team wins easily. By the time Cypress begins its third game against Kennedy, it is 6:25 p.m. But Buch, who subs in and out with Silva when her position reaches the front row, is so much into the match that she doesn't even notice ballet starts in five minutes.

"Usually, I do," she says.

Buch loves dance and says her future is in entertainment. She auditioned for "Star Search" and to dance at the Oscars but was turned down. She knows how hard it is to land a job in a performing group. Still, if she's accepted by UCLA (her first choice), she wants to get an agent, audition for commercials, TV, the Laker Girls, whatever. She also hopes to learn the business side of the industry to become a talent agent, casting director or screenwriter.

After the match, before changing from volleyball uniform into dance leotard in a bedroom with about 200 snapshots in frames and on corkboard--they're divided into volleyball friends and dance friends--she grabs a drink, a piece of celery and expresses dismay over the lack of peanut butter in the cupboard. Though she missed ballet, which she loves for herself, she still has two other classes, Lyrical Jazz at 8 p.m., and Performance Lyrical at 9, which she loves for their potential. It's part of the 15 hours she spends weekly at West Coast Musical Theatre Company around the corner from her house. And, she tells her dad before dashing off, that she will be home late: "I have to go to Stacy's and take care of my Halloween costume."

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