COLLEGE PARK -- Regardless of whether UCLA or University of the Pacific won last night's women's volleyball championship of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, rest assured they all came out of it still friends.
Take it from Melanie Beckenhauer, the junior setter for Pacific.
"It's just not a cutthroat sport. It gets emotional at times, but that just makes it more interesting," Beckenhauer said before the title match at Cole Field House.
"Krissy Fifer and I from Pacific and Samantha Shaver from UCLA all went to the same high school, Los Altos. We've known each other since we were this high," she said, holding her hand out below her waist, "and we're good friends."
Also, Sharon Kasser of Pacific and Laurie Jones of UCLA went to Huntington Beach High School together.
"We can be friends off the court, but once the match begins, each player is focused in her own way," Beckenhauer said. "You don't talk much through the net, but you do applaud good shots.
"In a regular-season game against Hawaii, [Cathey] Scotlan made a great block, and they looked through the net at her and said, 'That was a great block.'
"And teams have been responsive to some of Krissy's kills. When she gets on a roll the way she did in that last game against Nebraska, she's awesome."
While Fifer, a 6-foot-3 hitter, draws most of the attention (off the court, too), it is Scotlan whom opposing teams fear.
"Fifer got hot and did a really fine job, but Scotlan is the player you want to stay away from," said Nebraska coach Terry Pettit after his team's semifinal loss to the Tigers.
* Natalie Williams, whose father Nate played nine years in the National Basketball Association after graduation from Utah State, will play basketball for UCLA now that the volleyball season is over.
"I thought volleyball was more of a challenge for me," said the 6-1 sophomore from Taylorsville, Utah, a first-team All-American selection.
"There are more skills involved here because you have to go parallel and horizontal as well as vertical. In a basketball game, you can get away with being lazy every once in a while."
As a high school senior, she was a first-team All-American in both sports and was one of two high school players invited to train with the U.S. national team.
* Never mind those stories about jet lag. Pacific flew five time zones from its regional final in Honolulu last Saturday night to College Park.
"Feel great" was the consensus, although the players admitted to some tiredness earlier in the week. "I don't bother with a watch; I just go by whatever time it is. No big deal," said Beckenhauer.
* This marked the first time the Final Four had been played in the East. Its previous non-Far West sites included Minnesota, Western Michigan and Indianapolis. Next year, the championship goes to Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus.