Digger Graybill is trying to give college volleyball teams an option.
Graybill, UC San Diego men's volleyball coach, has been instrumental in starting the Southern California Volleyball Conference, which begins this year.
"If we can get this league going in the first year it will signal to other programs that there is another arena to play in," Graybill said.
The only other conference in the west is the Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn., considered the country's strongest conference. A WIVA team has won every NCAA national title since the sport was sanctioned in 1970.
The SCVC has four members this season--UCSD, Chapman College, La Verne and UC Irvine--but has plans to expand.
UC Irvine, however, is expected to join the WIVA next season. Graybill said he has been contacting other schools to see if there is any interest in joining the conference next season.
Menlo College and UC Santa Cruz are the only two NCAA-sanctioned volleyball programs not affiliated with a college conference. Graybill said that Menlo is interested in joining the SCVC for next season but that UC Santa Cruz is content to remain in its present club league.
"We really want to have an NCAA league," Graybill said. "There are a lot of club teams, but they are not NCAA programs. What we are hoping for is if this league can have some consistency over the next few years, then the club teams can go to their athletic directors and say 'See, there is a league we can play in and be competitive.' "
Graybill said he hopes there may eventually be an informal national championship for the smaller school. The NCAA now offers only one men's volleyball championship, so all teams must compete for the same title. That leaves smaller schools at a disadvantage. Men's water polo is in a similar situation, but the smaller schools initiated a National Invitational Tournament to determine an unofficial small-school champion.
"It's very difficult to keep a team inspired when you're not playing for a league title or a national championship," Graybill said.
Graybill is in his fourth year at UC San Diego, which plays host to Princeton Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in its home opener.
Last season, the Tritons were 14-14 and ranked No. 18 in the nation. Graybill also coached the Grossmont College women's team and the Hoover High School girls team from 1980-82.
The San Diego State men's volleyball team is ranked eighth in the nation in Volleyball Monthly's preseason poll. Penn State is ranked No. 1 and is the first non-California team to be ranked No. 1 in any preseason poll. UCLA, defending national champion, is second and USC is third.
Seven of the top 10 teams are from the Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. Besides SDSU, UCLA and USC, other WIVA teams ranked are: Hawaii (fourth), Pepperdine (fifth), Cal State Long Beach (sixth) and UC Santa Barbara (seventh). George Mason is ninth and Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne is 10th.
Amanda Spry, U.S. International University guard, is third in the nation in free-throw shooting (61 of 68 for 89.7%) after 15 games this season.
Chana Perry and Jessica Haynes of San Diego State are also nationally ranked.
Perry is sixth in rebounding (12.9) and ninth in scoring (25.1). Haynes is fifth in rebounding with 13.1.
Mike Jordan, Grossmont College quarterback, has signed a letter of intent to attend San Jose State. Jordan, a first-team Mission Conference selection, passed for 2,430 yards and 18 touchdowns for Grossmont. Jordan (6-feet 1-inch, 195 pounds) played linebacker and quarterback at Mountain Empire High School, a 1-A school in Pine Valley.
San Jose Coach Claude Gilbert was the San Diego State coach from 1973-80 and offensive coordinator Dan Henson coached at Christian High School in 1983.
Richard Hensley, a defensive lineman at Grossmont, has signed a letter to attend Cal State Long Beach.
Rich Coleman of the Grossmont football team finished tied for third in the state in interceptions this season according to final statistics released by the JC Athletic Bureau.
Coleman was tied with Damion Lyons of Laney College. Coleman had 8 interceptions for 72 yards and 1 touchdown in 10 games this season.
Jim Courtney of San Diego Mesa College tied for fourth in receiving with 58 receptions for 812 yards and 7 touchdowns. He tied with Manny Santos of City College of San Francisco.
Also ranked in receiving were Palomar's Scott Carlovsky (11th with 49 catches) and Ron Young (17th with 44 catches).
In kicking, Grossmont's Scot Fairchild was 16th with 25 of 28 extra points and 8 of 12 field goals for 49 points. John Ashworth of Palomar was 17th with 27 of 28 extra points and 7 of 17 field goals. Lance Ortega of Grossmont was 16th in punting with 56 for a 38.4 average.