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NAIA power Cal Baptist is movin’ on up

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In March 2004, the last time California Baptist played Hawaii in men’s volleyball at the Stan Sheriff Center, there was a significant absentee.

At the time, Jennifer (Roberts) McGuyre, wife of Cal Baptist’s head coach and a former Rainbow Wahine volleyball player, was eight months pregnant. She stayed behind in Riverside.

"She is making this trip," Ryan McGuyre said. "She’s been bugging me since 2004 to get a trip back to Hawaii."

His wife played under UH men’s head coach Charlie Wade, who was the Wahine’s top assistant at the time.

WARRIORS VOLLEYBALL

Non-conference matches

» Who: Hawaii (3-6) vs. Cal Baptist (10-3)

» When: 7 p.m. today. 5 p.m. tomorrow

» Where: Today at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tomorrow at War Memorial Gym in Wailuku, Maui

» TV: Today on KFVE

» Radio: Today and tomorrow on KKEA 1420-AM

"I’m using my wife for the Hawaii connection," McGuyre mused. "We’re really looking forward to that. It will be a great experience for our players."

The Lancers are a team on the move. This is Cal Baptist’s final year as NAIA members. Beginning in July, the Lancers move to NCAA Division II and into the Pacific West Conference.

McGuyre said the Lancers are making the adjustment toward the NCAA’s stricter guidelines. For instance, NAIA men’s volleyball teams are allowed to divide the monetary value of eight full scholarships among the players. The Lancers are offering the equivalent of 5.5 scholarships to this year’s team. The NCAA limits Division I and II men’s volleyball teams to 4.5 scholarships.

While the NAIA allows players to play four seasons over a liberally wide span, NCAA players have five years to play four seasons, a clock that starts when a player enrolls as a full-time student or a year after the player’s high school graduation. (There are exceptions for military service and church-related commitment).

While the NAIA does not have restrictions on the length of practices, the Lancers are following the NCAA’s 20-hour limit of matches, practices and meetings per week. None of the Lancers’ practices exceeds two hours.

"We’re not going to practice three hours, anyway," McGuyre said. "We’d be worthless in matches if I were doing that."

Cal Baptist, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, has been successful against all levels this season. The Lancers have beaten UC Irvine, which entered as the NCAA’s preseason top-ranked team, and toppled UC San Diego, which split two matches with the Warriors.

Setter Blair Penner was the 2010 AVCA/NAIA Player of the Year.

"He graduated in December, and he said he was done," McGuyre said. "He changed his mind, and decided to come back for his master’s degree. We call him Brett Favre."

Left-side hitter Levi Cabral (3.75 kills per set) is considered to be the Lancers’ leader.

"He epitomizes the identity of the team," McGuyre said. "He loves to have fun. He makes other guys better. He jumps high, is a good blocker, and is definitely capable of taking over a match."

Opposite attacker Sebastien Steigmeir (4.04 kills per set), like Cabral, can touch 11 feet 6. He joined the Lancers last month after serving a year of civil service with the Swiss Army.

The second left-side hitter, Mike MacNeil, is an agile defender, quick blocker and accurate passer.

"He’s definitely not an elevator as a jumper, but he knows how to use the block," McGuyre said of MacNeil. "He does some coaching on the side during the summer. He thinks tactically."

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