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Curry Kirkpatrick
June 09, 1975
In the recent tradition of soccer, team tennis and box lacrosse, volleyball has turned pro but with a coed format
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June 09, 1975

The Newest Kids On The Block

In the recent tradition of soccer, team tennis and box lacrosse, volleyball has turned pro but with a coed format

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Inasmuch as the hockey and basketball playoffs ended before the New Hampshire primary, and football doesn't begin until tomorrow, and World Team Pie-Throwing is already on the wane, isn't it about time we had a new pro sport around here?

Diana Ross thinks so. David Wolper does, too. And so does the partially unknown but still somewhat talented Bob Hogan, who used to do things like steal hotel fire extinguishers but who last weekend played a semi-minuscule part in inaugurating, enriching and perpetuating—get this—professional, international, coed, rock 'em, sock 'em, spikers like-you-never-got-'em volleyball. Yeah!

When the International Volleyball Association opened in the San Diego Sports Arena Friday night, only 2,451 people showed up. But Ross was there, along with a stable full of Top Forty chart busters summoned by Berry Gordy, the president of Motown Industries as well as of the IVA San Diego franchise. Wolper was there, he of the movie and TV documentaries, and at present the president of the league. And 25 girl tumblers from the local Y were there, too, in honor of " YMCA Night."

Right out of the box, a special night. Pro volleyball doesn't mess around.

What everyone experienced in this first contest between the home-standing San Diego Breakers and the visiting El Paso-Juarez Sol suddenly became more than a mere stirring of the senses. Minds reeled. Bodies clashed. The sexes blended. There were thrills and spills, drama and romance, the agony of a man's impossible stuff-block, the ecstasy of a woman's desperate smashed-face dig and the sheer spectacle of Hogan's soon-to-be world famous (maybe) "Hogie Roundhouse Sky-Ball Fading Tornado Wildman Serve" which he brought off the beach to close out the match for San Diego with a flourish.

This turned out to be an especially significant clue to the nature of volleyball players after Hogan revealed that he had started the day, a new era really, with a fairly large head from an erratic night before and that he "woke up feeling like I was inside one of the pyramids."

Even though San Diego won the initial fray, three games to two, the visiting Sol were not without their heroes and heroines, particularly Player-Coaches Smitty Duke and Mary Jo Peppler, who feature his-and-hers free curl hairdos; 6'7", 215-pound Scott English, a refugee basketball forward from the NBA and ABA; 4'10", 90-pound Eileen Clancy, who is called "Our Incredible Bumping Machine" by her teammates, and Lino (Caveman) De Melo Gama, a bearded Brazilian whose name sounds like something the natives tell you to avoid eating in the rain forest and who fascinated the crowd with his inspired jumping, faking and hitting.

"The Caveman is doing it all tonight," Announcer Marc Jacobs kept screaming into the microphone.

Indeed, despite an English vocabulary that consists of "hokay" and several unbelievably filthy words, the Brazilian showed he was equally charismatic at the champagne party afterward.

"I want to kiss you. Do you speak English?" one brunette asked him.

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