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Suwara Affirms Belief in Ability by Becoming UCLA Keynote Spiker

Staff writers Gary Klein, Lauren Peterson and John Ortega contributed to this notebook

Bill Suwara, the latest member of the spiking Suwaras to play volleyball for UCLA, never doubted his ability to play for the 12-time national champion Bruins.

“I always thought I was good enough to play,” said Suwara, whose uncles, Rudy and Ernie Suwara, starred at UCLA. “I just wanted to wait for my shot. I knew if I played well I’d eventually get a shot.”

Suwara, a left-handed outside hitter, attended Calabasas High, which does not have a boys’ volleyball team and he played only in U. S. Volleyball Assn. tournaments. He was a walk-on in Westwood who could not make the 12-man traveling team his freshman year. He redshirted the next season and was a reserve last season.

This year, however, Suwara is starting for the fifth-ranked Bruins (17-2, 4-2), who play host this weekend to top-ranked USC, second-ranked Penn State and fourth-ranked Pepperdine in the Reebok Volleyball Tournament at Pauley Pavilion.

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“We’ve been struggling with some lineups but I like our team a lot,” said Suwara, a history major.

“It’s nice to have proven I can play here, but I won’t be satisfied until I start on an NCAA championship team.”

Crowded house: The Northridge volleyball team might have lost its match against UCLA on Wednesday, but the Matadors won the favor of a boisterous, student-dominated CSUN crowd that Coach John Price hopes will return for Sunday’s nonconference match against eighth-ranked Ball State and Tuesday’s Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match against fourth-ranked Pepperdine.

“It was great to see that kind of support,” Price said. “Everyone always complains about the apathy at Northridge, but that match proved that if we play well and give them the opportunity to make noise, they’ll come out.”

Despite its record, Northridge (6-10 overall, 2-5 in conference play) has provided exciting play at home.

The Matadors extended fifth-ranked UCLA and third-ranked Hawaii to five games and top-ranked USC to four games, before losing.

Bogged down: The Cal State Northridge baseball team, mired in a school-record 10-game losing streak, will try to get well today when the Matadors play host to Southern Utah State in a doubleheader beginning at noon.

The doubleheader at home could be a good omen for CSUN (2-12), which recorded its only wins during a Feb. 6 doubleheader sweep of Cal Lutheran.

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CSUN, which has played 11 of its first 14 games against Division I opponents, has lost all seven games it has played on the road.

As expected, the Matadors’ biggest problem has been the performance of the pitching staff, which has an 8.85 earned-run average. Junior Dave Feely has been effective, posting a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. Freshman Mike Rooney, who pitched seven strong innings in Friday’s 4-2 loss to Westmont, is next lowest at 5.49 in 19 innings.

Northridge pitchers have surrendered 158 hits--including 18 home runs--walked 70 and struck out 61 in 117 innings.

Add pitching woes: The Canyons baseball team has also been victimized by inconsistent pitching. The Cougars received a one-hit performance by sophomore Tim Nedin in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Long Beach, but the staff has issued 56 walks.

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Canyons (4-3), which plays host to Cerritos today, is also suffering a bit on offense--even though the Cougars have a team batting average of .316.

Sophomore catcher Mike Bible, who batted .520 with 15 home runs last season, is struggling at .250. Outfielder Roger Nix, who batted .418 last season, got off to a 2-for-12 start and has spent time on the bench.

“We haven’t hit the ball as well as I thought we would,” Canyons Coach Len Mohney said. “I think we’ve suffered a little from our schedule.

“You need to get into a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule to start a roll.”

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Some Canyons players, however, are already performing well. Sophomore outfielders Billy Picketts (.400) and Ray Palagyi (.360) are hitting as expected and freshman Chris Joy (.412, 2 home runs, 9 RBIs) has done well in place of Nix.


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