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Volleyball Players Work Up a Sweat

April 13, 1999|PAUL McLEOD

It's spring break, campus is empty, and 25 minutes into a 2 1/2-hour workout at the Newport Harbor gym, a dozen boys' volleyball players are beginning to break a sweat.

They are divided into teams of four. Action is fast and furious in a game that only counts balls played inside a line on the volleyball court that is 10 feet from the net. Two teams begin with five points each and the first to 15 wins. The loser sits, replaced by the odd team out.

Assistant coach Kurt Lundburg keeps a wary eye on the scoreboard clock, which is ticking down inside the Sailors' cold, damp gym.

"We don't time the games," Lundburg says. "But we do time our practices."

Indeed, despite a scoreboard malfunction, practice runs moment by moment according to Coach Dan Glenn's schedule, written neatly in pencil in a notebook.

Stretching, running lines and chasing loose balls occupy a good portion of the grueling session, during which many players' thoughts are on the following day, when they will travel to San Onofre State Beach for long-board surfing and a volleyball tournament.

"It's something I've done every year since I've been here," said Glenn, a 13-year veteran.

During his tenure, Glenn has come up with a lot of practice innovations, not the least of which is "sock dig" in which players wear long stockings on their arms, pulling them above their elbows. Then they try to dig a volleyball smashed over the net at their feet by Lundburg, who stands on a two-foot-tall wooden box.

"In a game, you dig like this and it scrapes you up pretty good," Glenn says. "We try to do this drill every day, and the socks protect their arms."

The lathe and plaster walls of the Pit vibrate as players hit the hardwood floor. No wonder they give a sigh of relief when it's time to move on to three-count passing drills, followed by drills to improve their serving accuracy.

"I hate serving," says setter Ty Tramblie, a co-captain. "If you miss three you have to run a line trip."

The players do plenty of those, sprinting back and forth, reaching down to touch the next line in front of them.

"We kind of determine how hard the coach will be on us in practice," co-captain Matt Jameson says. "If everything goes well, he will be OK on us."

Glenn confides privately that this is one of the more "OK" teams he has had.

But he still believes players can do better in the 12-minute drill, during which they are challenged to reach season highs in a variety of categories such as setting, passing and serving. For the first time during this practice, their sweat-soaked shirts cling to their bodies.

"It makes you not make mistakes," Tramblie says of the drill. "It makes you responsible for yourself. You can't count on anyone to carry you."

After a water break, they move into a game of bumping and setting called pepper. Then it's time for a hitting exercise, which Glenn spurs on with shouts of encouragement: "Face the four! Jump! Jump! See the net!"

Then at 3 p.m. the coach swings the gym's back door open and runs outdoors. His tired team straggles behind.

"Time to lift," Glenn says as he makes his way to the weight room.

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