Colleges: 'Eaters' coaches moving

UC Irvine coaches, administrators and support staff will need to get used to a new-carpet smell, as the $1 million donation by Kathleen and Mark Santora to renovate and expand the strength and conditioning center will create change in the Crawford Hall office building.

UCI Athletic Director Mike Izzi said that coaches will be moving to the current Humanities Office Building, across Mesa Avenue from the Bren Events Center, early in the fall semester, to clear the way for Crawford Hall to become a place for student-athletes to work out.

The move will provide an upgrade for coaches currently cramped into office space that challenges their ability to both recruit and teach their student-athletes.

"We need to have facilities that match what our coaches are doing with the young people," Izzi said. "And I don't think that to date, we have matched all those services exactly with what the rest of the campus looks like. So, we're trying to catch up."

The first step in what Izzi hopes will be a string of improvements, will also include converting the current weight room into a student services center that is currently housed in trailers on Crawford Field.

The Humanities Office Building will become the Intercollegiate Athletics Building, Izzi said and the strength and conditioning facility, at what is now Crawford Hall, will bear the Santoras name.

"It puts us on more onto campus," Izzi said of moving the coaches and staff. "It's a better place for our coaching staff to work out of and it gives them a place to be able to recruit out of. Going from Crawford to here is an exponential improvement for us."

Head coaches will all be placed in individual offices, with their assistants located nearby, Izzi said. And conference rooms in the new location will create teaching environments more favorable than the ones that exist in Crawford Hall, where the absence of conference rooms sometimes forces teams to have strategy sessions in the lobby.

"Everything will probably be done summertime of [2013], barring delays," Izzi said.

Some serious strategy will be required for the UCI women's volleyball team when it faces No. 1-ranked Nebraska on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Bren Events Center. The match, UCI's first against a top-ranked program, is part of the UCI-Loyola Marymount Dual Classic.

Nebraska (3-0) earned the No. 1 ranking this week after knocking off preseason No. 1 UCLA, the defending NCAA champion, in five games on Saturday in Lincoln.

UCI (1-2) is led by 6-foot-1 junior outside hitter Aly Squires, who had 41 kills in three matches at the season-opening Varney Invitational completed Saturday at Kansas State. Squires was named to the all-tournament team.

The Anteaters also rely heavily upon senior libero Kristin Winkler, who amassed 68 digs in three tournament matches.

UCI is hitting .155 as a team, while Nebraska is hitting .264.

While UCI and Nebraska will do battle for the first time on the indoor court, former Anteater Whitney Pavlik and Nebraska graduate Jenny Kropp, who won the Manhattan Beach Open beach tournament on Sunday, will compete together in the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals' Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, contested Friday through Sunday.

The completion of the summer baseball season brought some good news for UCI Coach Mike Gillespie.

Anteaters Taylor Sparks, Jerry McClanahan and Mitch Merten all earned second-team All-West Coast League honors for their respective teams. Sparks was also recognized as a third-team summer All-American by Perfect Game.

Sparks, a third baseman and outfielder who will be a sophomore, hit .385 in 42 games, including playoffs, with a league-best 10 home runs to help the Wenatchee, Wash. AppleSox claim the league crown.

Sparks, who won the Home Run Derby at the league's All-Star Game, had 25 extra-base hits in 156 at-bats. He struck out 30 times. His .388 regular-season average was second in the league.

For UCI last spring, he hit .202 with three homers, 12 RBIs and 44 strikeouts in 124 at-bats.

McClanahan, a catcher who was a league All-Star and will be a sophomore in 2013, hit .295 with four homers and 17 RBIs for the Kelowna (British Columbia, Canada) Falcons.

Merten, who will be a junior pitcher next season, went 5-1 with a 2.36 earned-run average in eight starts for the Klamath Falls (Ore.) Gems. Merten struck out 47 and walked 11 in 49 2/3 innings.

In addition, Andrew Thurman, who emerged as the Anteaters' ace as a sophomore in 2012, finished 3-3 with a 3.23 ERA in seven starts for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League. Thurman struck out 49 in 39 innings and had single games with 14 and 12 strikeouts.

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