Morris Vows to Keep Track of Doubters

After the Cal State Northridge basketball team had defeated Loyola Marymount, 102-95, Tuesday, Northridge guard James Morris issued a challenge to the students who doubted the Matadors.

"Earlier today a lot of people came up to me and said that Loyola Marymount was gonna run us out of the gym," Morris said. "They asked if we had been running track.

"The next time they come up to me I am going to ask them to run track with me."

The "track meet" produced a combined 110 points in the first half.

"It was hectic," Northridge point guard Andre Chevalier said. "But it was fun. It was kind of reminiscent of last year."

The Matadors' familiarity with Loyola's run-and-gun offense (the Matadors ran it for the first part of the 1990-91 season) and the experience they gained from handling Wisconsin Milwaukee's press last week were key factors in the victory.

TURNAROUND

After a slow start, the Northridge men's volleyball team is showing signs of improvement.

The Matadors (5-5) won four matches and lost two, both to defending NCAA champion Cal State Long Beach, and finished second in a tournament last weekend in San Diego.

"We are starting to feel good about ourselves," Northridge Coach John Price said.

After a recent loss to USC, Price spoke of changing the lineup and kept to his word in San Diego.

Greg Weaver replaced Peter Piexto at outside hitter, Gary Reznik is challenging Matt Unger for the starting setter position, and Jamal Thompson, a transfer from Pierce College, established himself as the team's third middle blocker.

Thompson will be trained to back up Ken Lynch on the right side in the absence of Terry Schrumpf, who suffered a season-ending knee injury and will undergo surgery today.

The sixth-ranked Matadors will meet fourth-ranked UCLA at Wooden Center tonight at 7:30.

OVERKILL

In a sign of significant improvement, Lynch tied Bob Samuelson's school record for kills in a match with 44 against Hawaii.

"He was definitely not capable of a 44-kill match last season," Price said. "He was too hard on himself. He's getting better at bouncing back."

Lynch, a 6-foot-5 junior from Crespi High, leads Northridge in kills with a 6.3 per-game average and in blocks with 40.

FIRST-INNING BLUES

In four of Northridge's seven softball losses, the Matadors have fallen too far behind in the first inning.

Cal State Long Beach scored five runs in the first against Northridge, Texas A&M; scored four, UCLA scored three and Minnesota scored two. That was all the scoring those teams needed to beat the Matadors (5-7).

"The first inning has really been a problem," Coach Gary Torgeson said. "It's hard to start out in a hole. It's a combination of breakdowns here and there. It's easy to blame the pitcher, but a lot of things have gone wrong.

"We tried to focus on it without pressing but I think we had them over-focus. Now, we're kicking back and forgetting about it."

The Matadors will try to put it out of their minds in a four-day tournament in San Diego featuring top-ranked UCLA, Long Beach and Minnesota, as well as South Florida, St. Mary's and San Diego State. The tournament began Thursday.

SUPER FRESHMAN

With a 1.17 earned-run average in six games, freshman Kathy Blake has exceeded Torgeson's expectations.

"She has thrown very, very well," Torgeson said. "She's given up hits, but they've been scattered."

UCLA All-American Lisa Fernandez was equally impressed with Blake when the Matadors lost to the Bruins, 3-0, earlier this month.

"She was hitting the corners well and throwing (risers) and (drops) and she had some good heat," Fernandez said. "She is someone to be reckoned with."

FAST START

Former Thousand Oaks High and Moorpark College baseball player Steve Sisco, an honorable-mention All-Big West Conference infielder for Cal State Fullerton last year, has had a hot start with the bat for the Titans (4-2).

After helping Fullerton beat Northridge on Monday, 5-2, Sisco was batting .375 (nine for 24) and had a home run and two doubles.

Sisco, a senior second baseman, was an All-Southern Section player at Thousand Oaks in 1988 and an All-Western State Conference selection at Moorpark in 1989. He batted .350 and had a 19-game hitting streak last year.

MORE THAN A HYPHEN

The Cal Lutheran baseball team has proved itself worthy of its NCAA Division III preseason No. 7 ranking by winning its first five games, including a 9-1 victory over Division I San Diego State on Tuesday night.

But the Kingsmen have their work cut out. "We're trying to be the Lewis and Clark State of Division III," Cal Lutheran Coach Rich Hill said in the preseason.

Lewis-Clark State won the NAIA championship last season and was the top-rated team in the NAIA this preseason.

DEFENSIVE-MINDED

Janel Vega, a junior guard on the Northridge women's basketball team, quietly has settled into the starting lineup and has become one of the team's top defensive players.

Entering Saturday's game at Cal State Sacramento, Vega leads the Matadors with 31 steals despite starting five of 22 games. Vega, a 5-7 transfer from Bakersfield College, is averaging 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 points.

Northridge (1-22) will make its final trip of the season with games at Cal State Sacramento (Saturday) and Nevada (Sunday) before concluding the season Feb. 27 at home against Northern Arizona.

Among Sacramento's top players is former College of the Canyons standout Tressie Millender, who is averaging 15 points for the Hornets (10-14).

ACADEMIC

Evelyn Albert of Cal Lutheran is one of those basketball players who can inspire pride even in the midst of a lackluster season.

The Regals (1-19, 1-8 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play) have struggled through their first season in the SCIAC, partly because all but eight players have deserted the team.

"It has been a really frustrating year," Albert said, "but I am most proud of the people that have stuck with the team."

Albert, who has played guard and forward, scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Regals in a 71-47 loss to Southern California College last week. She is averaging a team-leading 15.3 points and 9.4 rebounds.

Albert was selected as a District 8 Academic All-American this week by the College Sports Information Directors of America. District 8 includes the Western states plus Hawaii and Canada.

"I think playing sports helps me with school because I have to organize my time better," she said.

Albert, an English major, maintains a 3.61 grade-point average and has made the dean's list five times.

HAMMER TIME

Ryan Vierra's early performances in the shotput are an indication that he could be in for a superb season in his specialty, the hammer throw. Success in one throwing event generally translates to success in another.

Vierra, a Northridge senior, moved to third on the school's all-time list in the hammer throw last season with a best of 193 feet 4 inches. He also put the shot 55-11.

On Saturday, he won the shotput with a personal best of 58-1 1/2 in the Bill Cosby indoor invitational track and field meet in Reno.

The mark exceeded the provisional qualifying standard in the event for the NCAA Division I indoor championships at Indianapolis next month, and it was the third consecutive meet this season in which Vierra had improved his personal best in the event.

Northridge Coach Don Strametz said it might be several weeks before Vierra throws the hammer outdoors.

"He had some injuries last year which might have resulted from throwing the hammer too much," Strametz said. "So we're going to bring him along slowly this year. . . . He's just a gung-ho type of athlete. He doesn't know the meaning of the words, 'back off.' "

Ron Twersky and staff writers Mike Hiserman, Theresa Munoz, John Ortega and Wendy Witherspoon contributed to this notebook.

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