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Cal State Fullerton Notebook / Robyn Norwood : Titans Have No Illusions About Game 2 : After Season-Opening Defeat, West Virginia Looms as Next Opponent

This is a case of going from the frying pan into the fire, if ever there was one.

Cal State Fullerton’s offense struggled in a 24-9 loss to Southwestern Louisiana in its season opener Saturday.

Next up, West Virginia.

The Mountaineers, ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll released Monday, won their opening game against Bowling Green, 62-14.

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West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen is a Bowling Green alumnus and was the school’s head coach from 1968-76. He even was trying to keep the game from becoming an embarrassment to Bowling Green, he told reporters after the game.

Little wonder that the Titans are wary. And little wonder that the goals of the offense this week do not involve scoring so many points. The goal is “improvement,” said Mike Heimerdinger, offensive coordinator.

The Fullerton defense, despite allowing 24 points, played fairly well against Southwestern Louisiana. Of the Cajuns’ four scoring drives, three began in Fullerton territory. And the defense didn’t give up a play longer than 15 yards.

It was the offense that really struggled. The Titans, playing in a steady rain, had seven turnovers--five on fumbled exchanges between center Marc Hauser and quarterback Dan Speltz--and two on interceptions thrown by Speltz.

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“I think we did a good job stopping ourselves with turnovers,” Heimerdinger said. “That’s a tough situation going into a game against West Virginia. The biggest thing for us this week is improvement.”

Because of a problem in transporting the game film, the coaching staff had yet to analyze films Monday. For some things, there were still no answers.

“I’m not sure what was happening on the quarterback-to-center exchange,” Heimerdinger said. “It was the first game Marc Hauser ever started and the first Dan Speltz had started for us. I don’t care where you’ve played, it’s always different when you get your first start with a team.”

Although Speltz completed only 3 of 13 passes with 2 interceptions in the first half, he finished 12 for 31 for 142 yards.

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“He made some good decisions,” Heimerdinger said. “We dropped some balls early that he put on the mark.”

The offensive line, which had been a concern because of inexperience and lack of depth, played “real well” early in the game, Heimerdinger said, but tired later.

Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy, at the mention of West Virginia after the game Saturday, had no comment but to roll his eyes and smile.

Just call Coach Fran Cummings’ volleyball team the Four Freshmen. That’s how many freshmen are in the starting lineup for the Titans.

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Susan Herman, a junior hitter who last weekend set a school career record for kills with 735, and Tammy Miller, a junior middle blocker, are the only non-freshmen in the lineup.

Cyndi Rhone (Troy High School), Stephanie Schofield (Rosary), Nicole Lee (La Serna) and Stephanie Shrieve (Berkeley) all have played their way into starting positions.

It’s a sign of improving talent on the Titan team, said Cummings, whose team was 9-23 last year.

“Some kids from last year’s team just got beaten out,” Cummings said.

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One reason for the influx of talent: Charlie Wade, a new assistant coach, also coaches a club team, and Lee, Rhone and freshman Angela Lightfoot all came to Fullerton after playing for him.

The young lineup made its debut last weekend in an eight-team tournament at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Fullerton finished third, behind Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Rhone, in particular, made her mark, setting a school record with nine aces against Georgetown, breaking the record of eight held by Susan Halsted.

“Cyndi Rhone had a real good tournament with a lot of good serving, and she hit pretty well,” Cummings said. “And Stephanie Schofield on the right is doing a great job.”

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The Titans host their own 16-team tournament this weekend, the Mikasa/Asics Collegiate Preview. Among the teams competing: UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Nebraska, Oregon, Cal and San Diego State.


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