VOLLEYBALL / NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS : Bruins, the Best in the West, Also the Only Team From West


UCLA has been tabbed all season as the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA men's volleyball championship.

As if that's not enough pressure, the Bruins are also the only hope to keep the championship trophy on the West Coast.

Top-ranked and defending champion UCLA (26-1) takes on fourth-seeded Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne (19-6) tonight at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in the second national semifinal. In the opener, second-seeded Penn State (24-3) faces third-seeded Ball State (27-9).

The winners play for the title Saturday night.

For the first time in the tournament's 25-year history, there are not two West Coast schools in the final four. West Coast schools have won every championship, with UCLA taking 14.

UCLA, Ball State and Penn State earned automatic berths along with conference championships. Ft. Wayne was given the at-large nod over Stanford, which won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation postseason tournament after the Bruins had beaten the Cardinal for the league's automatic berth.

UCLA Coach Al Scates refused to give his rivals extra incentive when asked about reports that West Coast teams don't respect those from the Midwest and East.

"You have been misinformed," he said.

UCLA is led by middle blocker Jeff Nygaard, who was selected the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. player of the year Thursday.

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