Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pac-12 | UCLA’s new Pauley Pavilion works well for volleyball

A smart remodel of a classic arena


LOS ANGELES—When the University of Washington remodeled historic Hec Ed Pavilion several years ago, they did it mostly right.

Gone were the view-blocking pillars and worn bleachers; left to stay were the warm, classic touches like the western arched windows that make it clear this is a big-time campus arena with a rich tradition.

This week, UCLA followed in those footsteps … and then some.

UCLA varsity (L) challenge UCLA alumni in first volleyball match in remodeled Pauley Pavilion
-Voleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
While the Bruins’ volleyball team was on its roadtrip to Utah and Colorado, the university officially celebrated its vast remodel of Pauley Pavilion. Women athletes—including many former volleyball players—were honored Saturday evening, and the Bruins’ legendary men’s volleyball coach Al Scates was feted Sunday during a raucous varsity vs. alumni match (won, just barely, by the varsity).

“They did a beautiful job,” said former women’s volleyball coach Andy Banachowski, who led the Bruins to several national titles both before and after women were invited to be part of the NCAA in 1972.

This weekend, UCLA will hoist the 2011 championship banner, won last December in San Antonio under new coach Mike Sealy. While the Bruins hang separate banners for each of its men’s basketball championships, the many, many titles won by both men’s and women’s volleyball have always been forced to share a single banner, with each new title year stitched on.

Andy Banachowski and Mike Sealy at remodeled Pauley Pavilion
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
“If they had a banner for each of Al Scates’ titles,” said Sealy, ”it would look like laundry ringing the Pavilion.”

Even so, it’s past time to put volleyball on equal footing.

Pauley’s old exterior was stripped away and enclosed in glass. The new promenade is wide and airy. The arena inside maintains the colors, sightlines and feel of the old Pauley, right down to the clean design on the court, which works equally well for both volleyball and basketball.

Loyal readers might notice that Pauley’s new look is in stark contrast to the new arena in Oregon. The Ducks replaced Mac Court’s green and gold wood with black steel and glass. The volleyball configuration is a mess, looking like an unwanted stepchild of basketball. The Eugene facility feels more like an NBA arena than a campus court.

COMING UP

Loyal readers may have also noticed the absence of a few regular Volleyblog Seattle features. After covering the Bay Area matches, we headed for the Pauley Pavilion ceremonies, then spent time with family and friends. With the big Oregon matches this weekend, and a chance to meet next year’s recruits, we’re ready to get back on schedule.

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