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LONG BEACH STATE NOTEBOOK / JASON REID : Straight-Shooter Ratelle Surprised by Men’s Volleyball Victory at BYU

Compared to some of his coaching brethren, Long Beach State men’s volleyball Coach Ray Ratelle is an open book. Ratelle tells it like it is--not how it might sound best.

So although it would be better for image sake to say he never doubted his team would defeat powerful Brigham Young at Provo, Utah, on Friday, such action simply isn’t in the guy’s makeup.

“It was a real surprise to me that we beat them,” Ratelle said. “We were just ecstatic with our win. To be able to beat them there, the way we did it . . . that was huge.”

The 49ers rallied to defeat the Cougars, 2-15, 10-15, 15-12, 15-8, 15-13, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match. Long Beach (2-0, 1-0 in conference) entered the match ranked fifth in the nation by Volleyball magazine and BYU was fourth, so the victory might not seem monumental.

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However, the Cougars have an established lineup, and Ratelle is trying to decide on his starting six while working in several talented but young players. Moreover, the 49ers played about as poorly as they could in the first game, Ratelle said.

“We didn’t score a point in the first game until it was 13-0,” he said. “And we weren’t playing that well going in (to the third game).”

OK, then what happened?

“We feel if we can stretch a match we’ll be in pretty good shape because of our conditioning,” Ratelle said. “We feel we can grind it out.”

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The 49ers’ depth doesn’t hurt either.

Junior middle blocker Tom Hoff was outstanding, with 35 kills and 16 digs. Contributions, though, came from throughout the roster.

Freshman hitter Ryan Mariano (El Toro High) had 15 kills and seven digs. Junior middle blocker Neil Mendel had 16 kills, 10 blocks and 10 digs.

“Tom carried us,” Ratelle said. “But a lot of the guys played well. I really thought Ryan did a super job.”

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The victory helped Long Beach move to third in the Volleyball magazine poll. BYU dropped to fifth.

Long Beach faces two more stern conference tests this week. No. 8 Cal State Northridge plays host to the 49ers at 7 p.m. tonight. Then the era of men’s volleyball in the Pyramid begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday against No. 4 USC.

Admittedly, Ratelle still has numerous questions about his team. However, as a key early-season road victory attests, he has reason to be excited too.

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Top player: The American Volleyball Coaches Assn. selected Hoff its national player of the week. Hoff had a team-high 27 kills in Long Beach’s season-opening 17-15, 6-15, 15-10, 15-9 victory over Princeton.

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Making a point: Reserve senior point guard Tye Mays started slowly because he wasn’t allowed to start at the beginning. Now that he has been around awhile, Mays is back to being himself.

Mays received some poor counseling from school officials and was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA for the 49ers’ first three games. Since returning to the lineup Dec. 21, Mays has been a positive force.

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He played his best game this season Saturday in Long Beach’s 79-70 Big West victory over Cal State Fullerton, scoring 13 points with three assists in 29 minutes. Mays (6 feet 1, 195 pounds) did a sound job of running the offense and getting the ball to his teammates.

“Some guys run the offense and some guys understand what we’re trying to get done,” Coach Seth Greenberg said. “Tye is a guy who understands what we’re doing.”

Greenberg was especially pleased with Mays’ ability to find senior center Joe McNaull inside the Titans’ 2-3 zone defense. McNaull scored a team-high 16 points.

“Tye did a great job,” Greenberg said. “He also pushed the ball really well.”

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Because of a left ankle injury to guard Everett Ratleff, Greenberg at times teamed Mays, who started five games last season, with starting junior point guard Rasul Salahuddin.

The results were good.

“We’re a faster team with me and ‘Sul in there,” Mays said. “He got out on the wing, I got out on the wing and the team got going.”

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Tough road ahead: Not so long ago--early last week--women’s basketball Coach Glenn McDonald felt quite good about his team.

That, though, was before the 49ers failed to show up, McDonald said, in a 66-51 Big West loss to first-place UC Irvine at the Pyramid.

“We were not prepared to play,” McDonald said. “And now we’ve made it tough on ourselves.”

Two of the 49ers’ next three games are on the road. Long Beach is 8-8, 5-3 in the Big West. Stay tuned.

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Play ball: Long Beach will open the baseball season by playing host to Washington State Friday through Sunday in a three-game series at Blair Field in Long Beach. Friday’s game starts at 7:05 p.m.; game time Saturday and Sunday is 1:05 p.m.

Coach Dave Snow has guided the team to three consecutive Big West championships. Long Beach shared the title last season with Fullerton and Nevada.

Notes

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Corey Saffold, a 6-6 sophomore swingman at Oklahoma, has transferred to Long Beach, he said. Saffold will sit out the rest of this season and have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 1995-96. Saffold, who said he plans to major in communications, graduated from Inglewood Morningside High. . . . Posters featuring the men’s volleyball team will be given out at Friday’s match against USC. Players will sign posters after the game.


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