The good news is that the Seattle Pacific University women's volleyball team earned an NCAA playoff bid for the second year in a row. What concerns Coach Kellie Radloff is trying to replace four of her six starters in 2002.

SPU went 20-8 to take second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference behind Western Washington. In the regional tournament, the Falcons were eliminated by defending national champion Hawaii Pacific.

Leah Wiiest, who was later voted to the all-region team, and Leilani Kamahoahoa, the career leaders in both kills and digs, are among the graduating seniors. Cathleen Price, the GNAC newcomer of the year, and setter Katy Higgins promise to form the nucleus of next year's squad.

This fall, Nathanael Castle became the first SPU cross country runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The women's team, plagued all autumn by injuries, failed to qualify for nationals for only the second time in the last eight years.

In soccer, the men's team narrowly missed the playoffs despite fielding a starting lineup that featured seven freshmen and sophomores. It was the first time the Falcons (10-8-1) were excluded from the postseason since 1989. Next season nine starters will be back as Cliff McCrath has an opportunity to become college soccer's all-time leader in coaching wins.

The first-year women's soccer team finished 8-10-1 and entered the final day of the season with a chance to clinch the GNAC championship before falling to Western Oregon 2-1 in overtime. Coach Bobby Bruch loses two of his top players, defender Erin Roberts and striker Andrea Larsen, to graduation. All-conference midfielder Michelle Sanders is due to return.


Homecoming Weekend offers a great chance to see two nationally ranked basketball teams. Both the Seattle Pacific University women's (11-2) and men's (12-1) teams got off to fantastic starts and were ranked among the top 10 programs in NCAA Division II.

The Falcon men reeled off 12 consecutive victories, including a double-overtime, 101-100 verdict at Central Washington. The Wildcats will be the opponent for the Homecoming game February 2.

Unlike the past few years when the Falcons scored points aplenty, SPU is concentrating on defense and rates among the national leaders, allowing just 63.4 points per game. Newcomer Yusef Aziz and senior guard Nick Johnson lead a balanced offense.

The Seattle Pacific women continue to emphasize scoring and surpassed 100 points in four straight early-season games. Kelley Berglund, a transfer from Washington State, has led the team in both scoring and rebounding through mid-January. The Falcons will try to avenge their only loss when Northwest Nazarene visits January 31. SPU's squad will then take on St. Martin's during the Homecoming doubleheader on February 2.

Gyongyver "Gus" Balogh, who graduated in 2001 after leading the team to a conference title, has been named a finalist for the 2001 Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sports Star of the Year. Balogh was conference player of the year and first-team academic All-America. Past winners of the award include SPU coaches Doris Heritage and Cliff McCrath.


Seattle Pacific University gymnastics hosts the first of three consecutive home meets January 18 in Brougham Pavilion. The Falcons are coming off a third-place national finish in 2001, and school record-holder Alison Siegel-McAfee headlines the cast of returnees. SPU hosts San Jose State at 8 p.m. on Homecoming Saturday, February 2.

In track and field, Seattle Pacific initiated indoor meets January 12, with outdoor action starting March 2. The Falcons are two-time defending women's conference champions and should be even stronger with the return of two 2001 redshirts, All-Americans Laura Widman and Jennifer Pyeatt.

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