SportsScope : Bruin National Spiker Champs to Open Season

Defending NCAA men's volleyball champion UCLA will open the season Saturday in the All-Cal Tournament at UC Santa Cruz.

The Bruins will play host to Pepperdine, NCAA champion in 1985 and 1986, in the 11th annual Kilgour Cup at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA Coach Al Scates, beginning his 26th season, has a record of 673-91, and his teams have won 12 NCAA titles since 1970. Scates has 10 lettermen, including three starters, from last year's squad, which finished with a 38-3 record.

The starters are senior All-American quick hitter Don Dendinger, All-American setter Matt Sonnichsen and sophomore technique man Trevor Schirman, the 1987 NCAA freshman of the year.

Moving into the starting lineup are freshman prep All-Americans Carl Henkel, 6-6, and Mike Whitcomb (6-7) and sophomore Mike Stafford, who will play at swing hitter opposite Henkel. Henkel is from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Whitcomb from La Quinta High in Westminster.

Rod Wilde, entering his third year as Pepperdine head coach with a 44-14 record and eight lettermen, has three starters back: senior setter Doug Rigg, junior outside hitter Randy Bergstedt and sophomore middle blocker Rod Keller.

Other Pepperdine lettermen are senior middle blocker Matt Morphy, junior setter Jamie Smith, junior outside hitter Paul White, sophomore outside hitter Jerritt Elliott and sophomore outside hitter Tom Parr. Freshmen expected to play a lot are setters Dijon Douphner and George Thompson and middle blockers Geoff Hart and Mark Root.

The Waves were ranked fifth in the nation in the preseason poll of Volleyball Monthly.

Pepperdine's Robbie Weiss, ranked 48th nationally in college tennis in singles, probably will get a much higher rating after winning the National Collegiate tennis tournament championship Sunday in Palm Springs.

Weiss, ranked No. 5 in his sophomore season in 1986 but injured last year, defeated Shelby Cannon of Tennessee, 6-3, 6-3. In the tournament, he won four of five matches in straight sets.

Weiss, who also won this season's Citrus Bowl Tournament, defeating five players in the nation's top 30, said: "Right now I am on a roll and playing with a great deal of confidence."

"So much of tennis is mental, and I am playing to my ability for the first time in more than a year."

Coach Glenn Bassett, whose tennis teams have won seven NCAA championships in his 21 years at UCLA, and his Bruins will open their dual-match season when they play Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at 1:30 p.m. Friday at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Three two-year lettermen are returning: juniors Buff Farrow, Patrick Galbraith and Dan Nahirny. Other UCLA lettermen are sophomores Brian Garrow and Brad Hess.

Newcomers include 6-6 1/2 junior Robert Bierens, a 1986 All-American at Brigham Young who sat out last year after transferring to UCLA, and freshman Giora Payes, who won three consecutive Los Angeles City singles championships at Fairfax High School.

The UCLA women's tennis team will begin its season when it plays host to UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. Friday at Sunset Canyon courts on campus.

In last Sunday's National Collegiate tennis tournament, the Bruin doubles team of senior Allyson Cooper and freshman Stell Sampras lost in the semifinals to Sandra Birchand and Cari Hagey of Stanford. In singles, Cooper lost in the quarterfinals to Diana Merret of Texas.

The Pepperdine women's tennis team will begin its dual-match schedule when it plays host to the University of San Diego at 1 p.m. Sunday at the main courts on campus.

Coach Gualberto Escudero's squad is paced by sophomores Carrie Crisell and Ginger Helgeson, who went to the NCAA tournament last year and are ranked among the nation's top 50 singles players.

Freshmen expected to make an impact include Anna Brunstrom, a top junior player from Sweden, and Janna Kovacevich, a prep star from Auburn, Wash.

Others are seniors Nikki Lusty and Stephanie Smith, sophomore Michelle Sullivan and freshman Julie Geiser.

The UCLA women's basketball team, 8-5 overall and 2-0 in the Pacific 10 Conference as the week began, will play host to USC in a conference game at 7 p.m. Friday at Pauley Pavilion.

The series is tied at 13 wins apiece, but the Trojans have won the last four, including last year's 76-72 and 81-76 victories. USC comes into the contest with a seven-game winning streak. Its last loss was to Auburn, 85-57.

The Trojans are led by 6-3 junior center Cherie Nelson, who averages 21 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Dora Dome, 5-10 senior forward, tops the Bruins with 18.3 points a game. Nelson and Dome were named to the All-Pac 10 team last year.

Both teams opened conference play last week with home wins. USC defeated Oregon State, 73-62, and Oregon, 82-56. The Bruins topped Oregon State, 66-51, and Oregon, 77-70.

For the Bruins, 6-3 junior Dana Childs has been starting in place of regular Sheri Bouldin, who sprained an ankle in practice Jan. 6.

The Pepperdine women's basketball team, 7-5 at the start of the week, will begin competition in the West Coast Athletic Conference tonight at St. Mary's and Saturday night at the University of San Diego.

Last week the Waves won three straight home games, defeating Columbia, 88-69; Colorado State, 68-52, and New Mexico State, 77-73.

Senior forward Earnesta Grace scored 62 points and shot 70.4% from the field in the victories. Grace, an all-conference selection last year, leads the team with 14 points and 5.2 rebounds a game and is hitting 55.5% of field goal attempts.

The UCLA men's swim team will entertain Cal State Bakersfield at 2 p.m. Friday at the men's gymnasium. Coach Ron Ballatore, whose record in nine seasons is 67-22, has 19 lettermen, including two-time All Americans Craig Oppel, a freestyler; Giovanni Minervini in the breaststroke, Pat Errett, a team co-captain who made his mark in the 800 free relay, and All-American Rob Graner in the 50 free. The other co-captain is David Kluth, a sprint specialist.

Top Bruins from foreign countries are Minervini of Italy, Rodrigo Gonzalez of Mexico, Elias Malamas of Greece and Giuseppe Tiano of Italy.

Oppel won his first national title last July when he captured the 200 free in a UCLA-record time of 1:48.88 at the Long Course Nationals.

Minervini, regarded as Italy's top swimming hope in the 1988 Olympics, swam a 1:02.23 in the 100-meter breaststroke, the second-fastest time in the world, at last year's European Championships.

Last fall the Bruins won two short-course meets, defeating Mission Viejo and UC Santa Barbara.

The UCLA women's gymnastics team opened the season last week with its best score in an opener in school history, defeating Arizona, 187.4 to 182.5. Bruin All-American junior Tanya Service set a John Wooden Center record with a 9.7 in floor exercise, and teammate Kim Hamilton, the 1987 NCAA floor exercise champion as a freshman, had a career-high mark of 9.55 on the vault.

The Bruins will compete Jan. 23 at the University of Washington.

The UCLA women's swim team, 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-10 as the week began, will play host to No. 3 Cal (4-0, 1-0) at noon Saturday at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

The Bruins are led by sophomore Catherine Capriles, who has qualified for the NCAA meet in the 100 and 200 backstrokes and the 200 individual medley.

Last year the Bruins, who haven't competed since they lost to No. 2 Texas by 28 points Dec. 5, lost to Cal on the road, 134.5 to 133.5.

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