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College Review : Aztecs Get Good Start in Volleyball

The first omen that the 1988 season might be a difficult one for Coach Rudy Suwara and the San Diego State women’s volleyball team came when Big West Conference coaches decided in a preseason poll that the Aztecs would finish no better than seventh.

Then came a 3-0 loss at home to rival UCLA, ranked fifth nationally before the season by Volleyball Monthly. To make matters worse, the Tachikara Coaches Poll was released Sept. 6, and for the first time since it was started in 1981, the Aztecs were nowhere to be seen among the preseason top 20.

All that may have changed when the Aztecs rebounded with victories over No. 3 Nebraska and No. 14 Oregon in the Cal State Fullerton Invitational over the weekend. The Aztecs defeated Oregon in pool play, 3-0, and then Nebraska in the semifinals, 3-0. SDSU was swept by Oregon in the final.

But two victories over top-20 teams should get the Aztecs back into familiar surroundings.

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“It was a great tournament,” Suwara said. “I think it put the Aztecs back on the map. I think we have potential. We’re still a young team. I’m really excited about the way we played.”

SDSU will get another test when it plays host to UC Santa Barbara Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Peterson Gym in the Big West opener.

Last season, SDSU finished 15-17 overall and sixth in what was then called the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. It was SDSU’s first losing season since Suwara took over in 1976.

The Aztecs have been a power in women’s volleyball over the years, finishing third in the NCAA championships in 1981 and 1982. Since the Tachikara Coaches Poll started, the Aztecs have been ranked 63 out of 72 possible times. Only nine other teams have been ranked more often.

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“Volleyball is a lot more competitive, and it’s harder to keep up,” Suwara said.

The UC San Diego women’s soccer team is ranked seventh in NCAA Division III. The Tritons were upset in the first round of the West Regional last year but have the majority of their players returning and have only one senior starting.

The UCSD men’s soccer team is ranked 14th in a preseason poll, and the water polo team is No. 13.

The San Diego State women’s golf team narrowly missed being selected to the NCAA championships for the first time last season as the Aztecs broke into the top 20 for the first time in the school’s history.

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Coach John Singer seems to have found a solid recruit to keep the Aztecs in the top 20, freshman Vivian Overturf of Huntington Beach. Overturf finished fifth in the Rolex Tour of Champions Invitational Tournament in Roswell, Ga., in late August, shooting 82-76-80-79.


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