After six days and more than 500 matches, another U.S. Open Volleyball Championships ended Saturday night in the Hunstman Center and the tournament delivered a few closing surprises. Only the defending men's champions had anything resembling an easy time in the finals - and they had to come from seven points down in one game. Tom Selleck never showed up, but his team was still the star of the show in the men's masters division. The women's open champ had to win two deciding games. And Portland State's volleyball glory days were relived in the women's club division.
Men's open: In an all-southern California final, defending champ Molten of Torrance handled Raymond Construction of Huntington Beach 15-13, resulting in the only title for a team that entered one of Saturday's division finals undefeated in the double-elimination tournament.While Molten had cruised through the winners' bracket, Raymond struggled early in the week. Raymond was 3-3 in pool play, lost its best setter to ejection from the tourney for arguing with officials and had to win a three-way playoff just to qualify for the 16-team championship stage. Later, Raymond had to win six elimination matches in the losers' bracket to reach the finals.
Ozzie Volstad, a hard-hitting Norwegian who was scouted by UCLA only on one videotape and ended up being the 1987 college player of the year, led Raymond's challenge. But Molten, with 1984 Canadian Olympian leading the way as the division player of the year, had too much balance.
Raymond threatened to prolong the evening by taking a 13-6 lead in the second game, but Molten closed things out with nine straight points.
Men's masters: Selleck's Outrigger Canoe Club of Honolulu team won a three-game final match with Billauer Chiropractic (Marina del Rey, Calif.) to force a championship playoff game and went on to an easy 15-4 victory. The title was Outrigger's fifth in seven years in the division with Selleck as a frequent contributor, but the actor was unable to work Salt Lake City into his schedule this week.
Selleck's appearance might have helped ticket sales for the week-long event, but Outrigger did all right without him.
Having lost a two-game match to Billauer Friday in the winners' bracket final of the double-elimination tournament, Outrigger had to go three games against Lehman, Lucchesi & Walker (Lakewood, Colo.) Saturday morning to stay alive.
"We're all in pretty good shape," player-coach Chris Crabb noted later. "We knew the longer we were out there, the better off our team would be."
The way things started against Billauer, Outrigger seemed doomed to a short stay - the Californians took a 13-0 lead in Game 1. "We have a lot of experience on our team, and we never felt like we were in trouble," said Crabb, named the division player of the year. "A couple of us just tried to get the guys to get a really going, a little streak."
Billauer still won the game 15-7, but Crabb and friends figured the tide had turned. And Outrigger improved game by game, winning 15-11 and 15-7 to take the match and force the playoff game against the team led by player-coach Doug Beal, the 1984 U.S. Olympic men's team coach.
Women's open: The defending champion Chrysler Californians - actually, with several new players this year - defeated Jokkue of Salt Lake 15-9, 15-8 to reach the finals, and forced a deciding game with a 15-11, 9-15, 15-10 victory over Reebok of Mesa, Ariz. In the playoff, Chrysler won 15-6.
The final match featured four members of the 1984 silver-medal U.S. Olympic team - Reebok's Sue Woodstra and Lauri Corbelli and Chrysler's Linda Chisholm and Carolyn Becker. But the division player of the year was a former Utah State player, Chrysler's Jo Ellen Vrazel.
Reebok had downed Chrysler in three games Friday.
Women's club: This was yet another case of a team coming through the losers' bracket to win the final match and force a playoff game - and win that, too.
Avia/Viking Volleyball Club of Portland, a three-game loser to Texas Majic (Nederland, Texas) Friday in the winners' bracket final, came back to defeat Texas Majic 15-7, 15-9 in the match and 15-9 in the playoff.
Avia/VBC is made up mostly of players from the 1985-86 Portland State team that won NCAA Division II national championships - three women, in fact, have played together since their junior year of high school in Portland.
Four-time all-America Lynda Johnson led those teams and was named the division player of the year for this latest title run. The team finished second in the club division last year.
Former Utah State player Katrinka Crawford was Texas Majic's player-coach.