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Friends of the Court Are Rivals Tonight

Summertime beach volleyball partners Zartman, Lindquist are on opposite sides of net when UCLA, USC meet.

November 15, 2002|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Tracy Lindquist and Chrissie Zartman are longtime friends and, during the summer, frequent beach volleyball partners. But when USC plays UCLA in volleyball tonight, they'll have opposite goals.

Lindquist's primary job as a setter for second-ranked USC is to make sure the team's offense is running smoothly.

Over at UCLA, Chrissie Zartman, a defensive specialist, is responsible for thwarting the plans of opposing offenses.

So far this season, Lindquist and the Trojans have the upper hand. USC is 21-1 overall and leads the Pacific 10 Conference with a 14-1 mark. UCLA is 15-11, 8-7 and in fourth place in conference.

When the teams met last month, USC won in three games and Lindquist and Zartman shared a hug outside the dressing rooms at USC's Lyon Center.

Any personal matchup isn't taken personally.

"I'm going against the school," Lindquist said. "It's a UCLA-SC rivalry. I'm not going up against her. There's more to it than me playing against Chrissie."

Lindquist, a senior, splits setting duties with junior Toni Anderson, but USC Coach Mick Haley said she is more valuable than a typical part-time player. "If I could find a way to have her in all six rotations, I would," he said. "She's a consummate player. She plays every point as if it's her last."

Zartman, a sophomore, is a defensive star for the Bruins, averaging 4.48 digs after averaging 1.86 last season. She had a career-high 28 digs in a four-game victory over California on Oct. 4 and matched that figure against Washington State on Oct. 25.

UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski said Zartman's ball-control skills make her tailor-made for the non-attacking libero position, which allows a defensive player to remain in a match for extended time because it does not count toward the number of substitutions in each rotation.

Zartman was a setter and outside hitter when she was Southern Section Division III co-player of the year for Torrance Bishop Montgomery High, but she likes her new position because it has led to more playing time. "[I] can stay in there and get into the groove of a match," she said. "I feel I can contribute more."

But for all the prestige of playing important roles for a major college program, there is also the allure of the beach game: Two people instead of six. A common bond instead of a synchronous unit. The freedom to do anything and everything.

"It's fun when we get back outdoors," Lindquist said. "You get to hit. You're not just secluded to one spot on the court."

Together, Lindquist and Zartman form a successful team -- no surprise considering volleyball is a tradition in both families.

Charlene "Sharkie" Zartman, Chrissie's mother, played on UCLA's first national championship team in 1972 and coached El Camino College to two state community college titles. Chrissie's father, Pat, was coach of the U.S. women's team in the mid-1970s and was coach in 1996 for Olympic gold medalists Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires of Brazil. Older sister Teri played at UC Irvine.

Tracy's father, Dave, played volleyball, basketball and baseball at USC. Her sister, Katie, played at the University of San Diego.

As youths, Tracy and Chrissie were the best junior beach team in the U.S. and in 1997 they were the youngest players to earn a AAA beach rating -- the top rating for an amateur player and roughly the equivalent of being one notch below professional caliber. Lindquist was 16, Zartman only 13, and they'd already been partners for years.

A chance meeting between the families brought Zartman and Lindquist together. They were on different club teams, but their parents -- not knowing that Lindquist was three years older -- thought they'd make a good beach team.

And right they were. Over the years, they won five AAU Junior Olympic age-group championships and five USA Junior Volleyball titles.

Last summer, Lindquist and Zartman bested 15 other teams to win the inaugural World University Beach Championships in the French Antilles. While Lindquist was too old to qualify for the FIVB under-21 World Beach Volleyball Championships, Zartman teamed with USC's Keao Burdine to finish second.

On the beach, familiarity is often the winning component. Lindquist and Zartman usually have the advantage there.

"Playing beach volleyball has a lot to do with knowing where your partner is going to be on the court and understanding the game," Lindquist said.

Said Zartman: "We always know where each other is. I know that if I'm in the wrong spot, she's always there to back me up."


This Week

Loyola Marymount, which earned its first berth in the NCAA women's soccer tournament, will play UCLA and USC faces San Diego in first-round matches at UCLA's Drake Stadium tonight at 6 and 8:30.

The Lions, overlooked in past years despite posting strong records, finished the regular season 10-6-3 overall and 3-3-1 in the rugged West Coast Conference. Loyola Marymount finished in a three-way tie for fourth place as five conference teams made the 64-team field.

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