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UNIVERSITY BEAT

Long Beach Braces for Volleyball Test

September 17, 1997|GABE LEON

Long Beach State's women's volleyball team won its second NCAA national championship in 1993, but has not been back to the title game--or even the final four--since.

And after this weekend's matches, the 49ers may have an idea how close they are.

Long Beach State, ranked third in the USA Today/AVCA coaches' poll after rolling off eight consecutive victories, will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for matches against No. 2 Florida (10-0) Friday and Saturday.

"It's going to be a good test to see where we are," Coach Brian Gimmillaro said.

But the test may be an extra-tough one, especially on Saturday.

With perhaps the biggest football game of the weekend, Tennessee- Florida, taking place next to the Stephen O'Connell Center, Florida school officials are urging football fans to funnel into the volleyball match after the game. About 10,000 fans are expected to oblige. Making matters worse for Long Beach, the Gators have a 106-4 home record since 1991.

"They don't lose at home," Gimmillaro said. "Let's see how we react to that environment."

Friday's match will be televised on Fox Sports West 2 on tape delay at 10 p.m. There will be no television coverage of Saturday's match.

Other Southland schools are climbing in the rankings, USC and Pepperdine having made the biggest jumps.

The Trojans, with a 7-0 record, have moved up seven spots to No. 8. Junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic leads the Pacific 10 with a .523 hitting percentage.

Pepperdine, unranked in the preseason polls, finished an impressive Hawaiian trip with victories over ranked teams to break into the poll at No. 19. The Waves defeated No. 18 Hawaii for the first time since 1979 and No. 11 Pacific, boosting their record to 9-0. West Coast Conference favorite Loyola Marymount stays No. 16.

No. 17 UCLA is slowly moving up and will open its home season against Arizona on Friday at Pauley Pavilion. The No. 15 Wildcats will then play USC on Saturday.

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Twelve of the nation's best water polo teams will be at USC for the Southern California tournament Friday and Saturday. Nine of the top 10 teams will be playing here, among them the two-time defending tournament champion and second-ranked Trojans.

Among the other schools participating are top-ranked California and No. 3 Stanford, along with defending NCAA champion UCLA, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Claremont.

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The UCLA men's soccer team will try to bounce back from Friday's 2-0 loss against the University of Alabama Birmingham at a St. Louis tournament. UAB scored its goals in the first eight minutes in upsetting Soccer News' top-ranked team. With the loss, the Bruins (4-1) fell to No. 7. The Blazers were unranked.

UCLA women's soccer is off to its best start. The Bruins are 5-0 and are ranked 13th in the Soccer News poll. Senior Traci Arkenberg leads the Pac-10 with 15 points and six goals.

After winning five of its first six games of the season, all on the road, the USC women's soccer team finally comes home. The Trojans, who surrendered one goal or fewer in each of their victories, will play host to Cal State Fullerton on Friday and San Jose State on Sunday, with both games at the Coliseum.

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More than 80 cross-country runners will compete in the Loyola Marymount Invitational on Saturday.

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