When Holly McPeak graduated from Mira Costa High in 1987, she accepted a volleyball scholarship to UC Berkeley. The last thought on her mind was winning an NCAA championship.
A three-time All-Ocean League and All-Southern Section setter at Mira Costa, McPeak chose Berkeley for academics, not volleyball. But after three years at Berkeley, she became unhappy after a coaching change and transferred to UCLA to complete her senior season in 1990.
The Manhattan Beach native later learned it was the best move of her collegiate career. It led to two NCAA championships.
As an All-Pacific 10 Conference setter last year, she helped the Bruins win the national title. This year she was an assistant for a UCLA team that finished 31-5 and defeated Cal State Long Beach, 12-15, 13-15, 15-12, 15-6, 15-11, Saturday for the NCAA title.
“It seems completely unreal to win two of these in a row,” McPeak said. “When I went to Cal I thought maybe by my senior year we might have a chance. But this is . . . it’s just hard to believe.”
She says the Bruin team she played for last year was different from this year’s squad.
“Not a lot was expected of us last year, but we were real steady,” McPeak said. “This year, with all the talent, they just expected us to win it from the start. But I don’t think this team had as much heart at the beginning of the season. They worked hard though for what they got.”
So did McPeak, who made an immediate impact when she arrived at Westwood. She beat out Jennifer Gratteau to start at setter and finished 13th on the all-time NCAA career-assist list with 5,420. She also set a UCLA single-match record with 97 assists against Stanford and was named to the NCAA all-tournament team after the Bruins defeated Pacific for the title.
“Last year I couldn’t believe what happened in a matter of four months,” McPeak said. “I transferred from Cal, won the starting job and then we won the NCAA title. To this day I can’t believe it.”
UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski said he recruited the 5-foot-7 McPeak when she was attending Mira Costa.
“We wanted her out of high school because she was a tremendous athlete,” Banachowski said early last season. “I only wish I had her for the three years instead of the one.”
This season McPeak was active in every UCLA practice, but sitting during games was sometimes difficult. Clad in jeans and a light blue shirt, she had to watch the Bruins lose the first two games of Saturday’s championship match.
“It’s hard to watch because I have no control,” she said. “I get involved with practice as much as possible. I set and play defense. I just love to play.”
During the summer, McPeak teams with another former Mira Costa standout, Barbara Fontana, to compete on the pro beach tour. Fontana was an all-state and All-Southern Section outside hitter for the Mustangs and later competed at Stanford.
Last season was the team’s first on the beach tour. Liz Masakayan, another UCLA assistant, also made her pro beach debut last season. Masakayan, who lives and trains in Redondo Beach, was a two-time All-American at UCLA and a six-year member of the U.S. National team.
Masakayan and her partner, Linda Chisholm-Carrillo, are 2-0 against McPeak and Fontana on the beach. In June, Masakayan and Chisholm-Carrillo defeated McPeak-Fontana, 15-0, at the Flamingo Shootout in Reno. In August, at the World Championships in Las Vegas, Masakayan and Chisholm-Carrillo won, 16-14, on their way to winning the title.
“We don’t even think about that,” McPeak said. “This is completely separate from it. Both Liz and I got really involved with this team. We just love to play.”
McPeak is training hard to prepare for her second season on the beach, but she also plans to compete indoors. After watching 36 matches at UCLA, she is eager to return to the indoor game.
“I really miss playing indoors,” she said. “I like playing on the beach, but I really love the indoor game.”
McPeak has made contacts with several Italian pro clubs and plans to compete overseas in September.
The Cal State Dominguez Hills men’s basketball team got off to a shaky start, but the Toros have won their last four and six of seven.
Dominguez Hills (7-3) defeated The Master’s College, 52-51, on Saturday.
The Toros are shooting only 42% from the field. Against The Master’s, a National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District III power, Dominguez Hills made only 17 of 41 shots and 12 of 20 attempts from the free-throw line.
For the second consecutive week, no Dominguez Hills player has a scoring average of more than 10 points a game. Seven Toro players average between seven and nine points and eight average between six and nine.
Freshman guard Chris Thompson leads the team with a 9.4 average and junior forward Vincent Washington is second at 9.1.
Despite the poor shooting, the Toro defense has been solid. Dominguez Hills has forced 175 turnovers in 10 games, a 17.5 average.
Defensive back Donovan Gallatin, a two-time community college All-American at El Camino College, has signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA . . . Loyola Marymount forward Joelle Longobardi has scored in double figures in all of the Lions’ games this season. The 6-foot forward leads the team with a 17.5 average. Loyola sophomore Lisa Humphreys has led the team in scoring during her past three starts. The forward from Palos Verdes High is averaging 14.7 points during that span . . . Cal State Dominguez Hills forward Dionne Vanlandingham has broken a school career record for blocked shots (89) this season.