By Eric Branch
Daily Bruin Staff
San Diego State women’s volleyball head coach Myles Gabel spent the day before his team’s match with No. 3 UCLA searching for advantages. He found exactly one.
“Well, I’m happy we’re home rather than going up there to play,” Gabel said. “When you play UCLA, advantages are hard to find. I try to use all the positives I can but that’s probably the only one I can see, unfortunately.”
Making the Aztecs (10-4 overall) challenge even more daunting in tonight’s non-conference match in San Diego is the inexperience in their starting lineup. SDSU will trot out three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior against the Bruins (13-1, 4-0 in Pacific-10). Despite the young lineup the Aztecs are coming off a successful weekend, handling Texas-El Paso on Friday, 3-0, and then shocking No. 17 New Mexico in five.
“Green would certainly be a fitting adjective to describe us,” Gabel said. “We are talented but inexperienced. I don’t know, maybe we’re so young we won’t get caught up in the mystique of UCLA.”
While Gabel continues his search for a silver lining, UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski is looking for any information on tonight’s opponents.
“Frankly, I don’t know a whole lot about them,” Banachowski said. “We play them every year, but I don’t know much about this year’s team.”
Banachowski will quickly learn who the Aztecs go-to players are at game time. Sophomore outside hitters Juliana Cezar and Ginger Ernest lead the SDSU attack. Ernest leads the team, averaging 4.96 kills per game with 248 overall. Cezar, the 1993 Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year has been immune to the sophomore jinx. She has racked up 166 kills to complement her team-high 143 digs on the year.
As a sidelight, it will be a homecoming for UCLA freshman outside hitter Kara Milling. According to Gabel, Milling, out of Poway High School in San Diego, will receive a warm welcome.
“I know a lot of people are coming out to see Kara play in the area again,” Gabel said. “It should be a great atmosphere.”
* * *
The Bruins will continue to play the “Guess the Setter” game tonight. Sophomore setter Kelly Flannigan started in the win over Washington on Friday night before being removed for freshman Kim Coleman at the start of the fourth game. The following night, Coleman started and played all the way in a victory over Washington State.
However, Flannigan will be back working the controls against SDSU.
“The setter situation is still unresolved,” Banachowski said. “Kelly and Kim are getting equal practice time right now so when we make a switch it’s not a big adjustment for the team.”
Despite the constant flip-flopping, Coleman is undisturbed by the situation.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Coleman said. “I’m just thrilled to be here playing volleyball for UCLA.”