Spring Sports Notebook : La Canada Stands Tall When It Counts

Chris Mehnert's departure from the starting lineup has precipitated a revamping of the offense for the La Canada High boys' volleyball team. Mehnert, a 6-4 middle blocker and the team's tallest player, sprained his ankle three weeks ago and has been replaced by Greg Givens.

"It's really forced us to spread out our offense," Coach Brad Miller said. "We've been running a lot of quick plays to make up for not having a lot of height."

La Canada (4-1 in the Golden League) has compensated well for the deficiency. Setter Gerrick Kelley is averaging more than 25 assists a match and hitters Craig Prentice, Clark Ward, John Wilson and Matt Tanaka are all averaging nearly 10 kills a match.

La Canada will play San Gabriel and Hart this week in the league's final round.

Streaking: The Ribet Academy baseball team is off to its best start. The Fighting Frogs (8-3, 3-0) are undefeated in the Heritage League, including a 9-5 victory over Coast Christian on Monday.

Coach Patrick Moyal attributes the Frogs' success to timely hitting. Although Mike Gittos has led Ribet with a .470 average this season, he had only one hit Monday--a two-run triple in the first inning. It contributed to an early 3-0 lead that Ribet never relinquished.

The Ribet program has been in existence only three years and is experiencing player personnel problems; there aren't enough players. But despite a 10-player roster Moyal remains positive.

"Nobody is spending enough time on the bench to feel like just a bench player," he said.

Qualifiers: Decathlete Ronnie Cunningham is the latest of eight Occidental College track athletes who have qualified for the NCAA Division III national championships in May. Cunningham scored 6,305 points in the San Luis Obispo Invitational last weekend, five points over the required minimum.

Other qualifiers include: Lionel Shaw in the 800 meters, Ben White in the long jump, Chris Beard in the hammer throw and Molly Moore in the 400 meters, high jump and the heptathlon. Also qualifying was the Occidental men's 400-meter relay team comprising Jeff Sundquist, Craig Hartley, Alan Loveless and Cunningham.

Add track: The Glendale College team received several strong performances last weekend at the Bakersfield Invitational. Both the men's and women's teams will compete in the Western State Conference final Saturday at Santa Barbara City College. The men's team (7-1) has won 13 consecutive conference championships but, by placing second to Bakersfield in the dual meet season, will have to win the conference meet to gain a part of this season's title.

Rodney Bradshaw led the men's team with a second-place finish in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.00). Bradshaw last season won the conference championship in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.1), the 400 meters (55.7) and was part of the winning 400-meter relay team (41.7). Jose Hernandez placed third in the 10,000 meters (30.45), Matt Batham fourth in the high jump (6-feet, 8-inches), and Mark McMillan third in the 100 meters in a personal best (10.6). Linda Benioff led the women's team with an eighth-place finish in the shotput (39-feet 3 1/2-inches).

Change of place: For assistant football coach Gary Spielbuehler, only the scenery has changed. Spielbuehler, who has coached the defensive line for 10 seasons at Glendale College, will assume the same duties next season at Cal State Fullerton. Spielbuehler was a defensive lineman and linebacker at Glendale College in 1971-72 and played for Cal State Northridge in 1973 and '74.

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