8:43am | Alan Knipe, the coach now waiting for the Olympics, was almost invisible in the back of the Pyramid. Friday night he will get the salute along with the rest of the players on the 1991 NCAA championship team in the ceremonies around the 49ers match with USC.
The handsome woman calling the lines along Gucci Row was Sally Bulquerin, sister of one of the greatest diggers in 49er history, Tracy Bulquerin who ruled the back row from 1999 to 2002. My carpool pal was David Pylman, who used to schedule all the CSULB class rooms back in the Horn era, has ref-ed everything from softball to volleyball to band contests and now does all sorts of official table chores for Pepperdine.
Nestled in the low-rise end-line bleachers were two talented assistant coaches, Eric Brown of men’s basketball and Stephanie Swenson of women’s softball. Swenson has run the pitching rich pen of LBSU for eight years after her own run for glory at UCLA. Mr. Brown coached at Cal State Northridge, USC and Iowa State before landing some real talent for Dan Monson and the Beach. Stephanie and her squad head off to a tournament in Palm Springs Thursday through the weekend and Eric will put on his best suit and smile as the 'Niners play second place Cal Poly for the outright Big West Title and the right to make postseason reservations somewhere.
In amongst them and exhaling was Athletics Director Vic Cegles, who got some much needed wiggle room in his budget when President Alexander announced that he will indeed, finally, for sure raise student fees $94 a semester for “Student Excellence Funding,” some of which is earmarked for athletics. That amount annually would be between $2,380,000 and a brag figure of $2,500,000. How it will be spent, well as noted sports writer William Shakespeare said, “Ah, there's the rub.”
Some say that athletics has an edifice complex; they will build more buildings/facilities. Some coaches expect to catch up on the scholarships which have been underfunded, more money for assistants, travel, equipment, officials (and media meals???). But that’s not why these bleachers were populated, they were here to watch interim coach Andy Read and his rollercoaster-riding 49ers sweep Pepperdine and go to 8-5, 7-3.
The numbers of note were No. 6 Long Beach State controlling “every facet of the game on Wednesday night, sweeping No. 9 Pepperdine by a score of 25-13, 25-22, 25-17. Junior Brad Hemmerling had a huge night with 16 kills, six more than his previous career high to lead the 49ers.” The most recent hero for the Beach boys was Mr. Hemmerling who hit .625 as part of a team mark of .359 overall. Hemmerling, who was also the most efficient hitter for Long Beach State at .625 overall with just one error on 24 swings, was lightly used until the past week with a mere 15 kills all season coming in. Jim Baughman also hit .429 with 11 kills but JB had 157 coming in.
Fast forward to the rest of the weekend, the 740 attendance will be the head count in the lines at the concession stands for the Cal Poly and UCSB hoop tests. Winning one of those games will insure at least an NIT bid but this bunch will be a favorite in all three of their Honda Center BWC tourney games for the NCAA ticket. Also on the docket is tennis at home vs. Riverside Friday and at UCI Saturday, baseball vs Arizona at Blair Friday to Sunday (weather permitting). Let the budget games begin.