National Sports Festival : South Volleyball Team Bounces Back to Bounce West in Final

Times Staff Writer

The revenge motive can be the ultimate equalizer.

Last Saturday night, the heavily favored West volleyball team swept through the South like a modern-day Sherman.

But Tuesday night at the LSU Assembly Center, the South returned the favor, scorching the West, 16-14, 9-15, 15-5, 15-4, to take the Sports Festival gold medal.

“They were really emotional and burned us,” San Diego Poway senior Jud Buechler said. “You know they really played with a lot of emotion, and we just never got our passing and setting going.”


The West, which won in straight sets Saturday, opened fast again, building a 12-6 lead. They still led, 14-10, before the roof caved in.

“Two years ago, I was glued to the bench,” said the South’s Matt Sonnichsen of Spring, Tex., who is heading to UCLA on a scholarship in the fall. “And the West whipped our butts in straight sets on the first night. Then they came back a couple nights later and they crushed us again.

“This time, we just decided it wasn’t going to happen again.”

The South took over the net, and seized the momentum, allowing a crowd of nearly 4,000 into the match. The West also failed to convert on three straight service opportunities.

The West could have gone quietly, but sparked by Buechler, they took the second set. That was their last moment to enjoy.

“We got complacent or something,” said the South’s Sio Saipaia of Honolulu, who also sang the national anthem. “We didn’t know if we should force it, or sit back and be steady. That cost us. Then we decided it was time to get after it.

“I just went out and went for some spikes. I’m not a very good passer or setter, but I like to spike. Then we got the momentum, and it was over.”

For Buechler, who also played basketball for Poway, it was the second massacre he had witnessed in the last six months. Earlier in the year, his team had played well for a half, before succumbing in basketball to No. 1-ranked Crenshaw and its vaunted press.

Interestingly, Crenshaw Coach Willie West, an assistant for the West basketball team, was in the crowd Tuesday night.

“You know I saw him, and I was thinking, ‘now what is he doing here,’ ” he said.

The Orange Majestics, representing the South, played 12:06 minutes of softball in a little more than 25 hours. Monday, in a game that went a record 21 innings and ended early Tuesday morning, they eked out 1-0 victory over the Southern California Renegades of Long Beach.

Tuesday afternoon, they rolled out of bed to go another 21 innings against the North. Only this time, they lost, 1-0, as pitcher Ella Vilche of Hayward extended her scoreless string to 50 innings.

Tuesday night, the Majestics rebounded to beat the East, 2-0.

For four days, Mr. Unflappable and Mr. Nonchalance waged a war of arrows.

A tie would have been appropriate, but Darrell Pace squeaked past Rick McKinney, 2,592-2,590, to claim the gold medal in the archery competition.

“You know we watch each other all the time,” said McKinney, of Glendale, Ariz., who also finished second to Pace in the Los Angeles Olympics. “We used to be extremely competitive. Now, we kind of feed off each other. I push him, and he pushes me.

“I shot well, but two days ago, I had a miss, and it cost me. Plus, going into the last three arrows this morning, I had a four-point lead. I got a 23, and he shot a 29. That was the end because we shot even in the afternoon.”

Pace, of Hamilton, Ohio, also collected a gold at the Montreal Games in 1976.

“You can’t be nervous out here,” Pace said. “Not with Rick so close to me. People expect us to do well, and we respond. But sometimes, it’s amazing. We shoot a whole round of good arrows, and the only ones the two of talk about are the bad ones.”

When figure skaters finish a routine, dozens of fans make their way to the front row to offer flowers and other gifts. Asked by the Baton Rouge State-Times if she liked the practice, Kristin Kriwanek, 17, of Los Angeles, said: “You get some crazy things sometimes--cotton candy, balloons . . . a stuffed armadillo. Some guys do it just to meet you. I like that--if they’re cute.”

For the last month, the union that represents the Baton Rouge City police, has been posting informational pickets, hoping to arouse public sentiment in their contract negotiations.

Tuesday, a union spokesman indicated that picketing the Festival venues had been considered as an option. However, the idea was rejected because it was felt, the picketing would be detrimental to the City’s image.

But one writer, noting the sparse attendance at most venues felt the decision was wise.

“That would have been crazy to picket at the Festival . . . then no one would have seen the signs.”

The excruciating combination of heat and humidity has been most devastating in field hockey which is played on an artificial surface at Bernie Moore track Stadium on the campus of LSU.

Tuesday, the best women’s player in the United States, Beth Beglin, was forced to leave the match late in the first half suffering from dehydration.

“I was exhausted yesterday after the match and I felt light-headed,” said Beglin, the 28-year-old, two-time Olympian midfielder, who led the United States to a bronze medal in 1984. “Then the same thing happened today. Someone told us it was 120 on the field.

“I don’t know what it is cause I’m in good shape. It’s either heat exhaustion or a recurrence of some kind of infection. I’m going to get a complete physical.”

How good is Beglin?

“She’s a great, great stick handler, very deceptive” said the South’s Anne Brooking. “And has all the moves. She’s not real fast, but she’s quick with the ball. A lot of players will deflect the ball to a teammate. But Beth is always in control. She’ll always hit the open man.”

National Sports Festival

The West baseball team, which opened with a loss, stormed into tonight’s gold medal game, scoring six runs in the eighth inning to defeat the North, 10-4. North starting pitcher Jason Kolonski of River Forest, Ill., survived a freak accident in the fourth inning. As he walked up to bat, Kolonski stepped on an aerosol can of pine tar and it sprayed into his face. The game was delayed 10 minutes while trainers flushed Kolonski’s eyes with water. He then stepped to the plate and singled on the first pitch to knock in a run.