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Murchison's Volleyball Program Making a Move

November 13, 1996|LON EUBANKS

The Titan women's volleyball team completes its regular season this week, and Coach Mary Ellen Murchison is confident her program has turned the corner.

The Titans are 16-ll, 6-8 in the Big West, and are assured of the school's best season since the program began in 1976. Fullerton's only other winning year was in 1981.

Fullerton also has a chance to advance to the eight-team conference postseason tournament, although it likely will take an upset victory in one of two remaining regular-season matches. The Titans play at Pacific Thursday night and at Long Beach State Saturday night.

"We're really pleased with the turnaround," Murchison said. "We've already reached several of our goals, and the only one we haven't yet is getting into the postseason tournament. But we still have some control of that in our last two games, and we haven't seen everyone firing at the same time this season. I'd like to see that happen."

Murchison was especially pleased by her team's five-game victory over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly had won the previous 21 matches against Fullerton.

"We lost to them the last time at their place in five," she said. "Winning this time gave us eight victories in 11 matches at home this season, and we feel that's helped a lot to reverse any negative thoughts from our fans about what they can expect from us."

Murchison said seniors Heather Bassett and Shelly Smith sparked the turnaround.

Bassett averages 4.66 kills and ranks second in the conference in digs with 3.11. Smith is fifth in the Big West in digs with 3.01. Junior setter Melissa Blackler is third in assists with 11.72 per game.

Murchison hopes the success will help recruiting.

"We're getting a much better response," Murchison said. "We're able to talk to players now who probably wouldn't give us a look before because of our record."


Soccer Coach Al Mistri believes his men's team is assured a spot in the NCAA tournament after last week's 2-0 victory over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The Titans are 10-4-5.

The pairings and tournament sites for first-round games the following weekend will be announced Monday. Fullerton has bid to host one of the first-round games.

The women's team finished 13-6-2, but two losses and two ties in its last four games kept Fullerton from serious consideration for a tournament bid. "Because of injuries, we weren't the same team at the end of the season," Mistri said.


Coach Bob Hawking is planning on Matt Caldwell, a 6-9 freshman center from Peoria, Ariz., being a redshirt this basketball season.

"We're five players deep on the front line, and a sixth postman probably wouldn't get a lot of action," Hawking said.

Junior guard Chris St. Clair is scheduled to have the cast removed from his injured left hand next week, but his status for the season opener at Brigham Young Nov. 22 is questionable.


The 1996 Titan baseball team was honored at an awards banquet Sunday, and outfielder Mark Kotsay was chosen most valuable player, top offensive player and team captain. He also shared the most inspirational player award with third baseman Tony Martinez.

Kotsay, who signed a $1.1 million bonus with the Florida Marlins, has been playing in the Hawaiian winter league.

Other team awards went to Brent Billingsley, most valuable pitcher; infielder-catcher Mike Lamb, most improved, and catcher Brian Loyd, top defensive player.

Augie Garrido, who became Texas' coach in July, received a framed collage that included his jersey No. 16. The number will be retired.

Titan Notes

The fencing team swept matches in both the men's and women's divisions from UCLA, USC and UC Santa Barbara in the Southern California Conference meet at Cal Tech Saturday. In the women's division, Karen Lieu was 12-0 in foil and Margaret McCarthy was 12-0 in epee. Renato Gates, Kyle O'Brien and Brian Clawson were 8-1 in men's division matches.


Coming Attractions

Here's a look at key events for Cal State Fullerton this week.

* Women's volleyball at Pacific 7 p.m. Thursday and at Long Beach State 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

* Men's and women's cross-country at NCAA Region 8 meet at Fresno State 10 a.m. Saturday.

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