LOS ANGELES - The UCLA volleyball program this week mourns the passing of former player John Zajec, who lettered three seasons on the Bruins’ first three NCAA championship teams. Zajec, who died Tuesday night, was 63.
Zajec played middle blocker for the Bruins from 1970-72 and was a teammate of Kirk Kilgour, Ed Machado and Dick Irvin, among others. In his final year of 1972, Zajec earned NCAA All-Tournament honors. In the championship match, the Bruins rallied from two games down to outlast San Diego State in five games. UCLA finished with a record of 27-7.
Zajec played for UCLA teams that won three national championships, one conference title and boasted a combined record of 80-9.
“John was part of an era that set the standard of UCLA volleyball,” said retired Hall of Fame Coach Al Scates. “He was a great competitor, an unselfish teammate and a loyal supporter of our program for many years. My condolences are with his wife Terri and the family at this time.”
In 1974-75, Zajec played for the U.S. National Team with Doug Beal (current USA Volleyball CEO), Chris Marlowe, Paul Sunderland and Tim Bonynge, among others. He was a starter at the 1975 NORCECA Championships where the U.S. placed third, and he started on the 1975 U.S. Pan American team that placed fourth. Also in 1975, he earned USVBA All-America Honorable Mention honors, playing for San Diego Chart House, which won the men’s open title at the USVBA National Open.
A familiar face at the annual UCLA Alumni volleyball match and many other volleyball matches in the Southland, Zajec will be remembered for his enthusiasm and support by alumni, coaches and players.
“He was a wonderful supporter of volleyball,” said current head coach John Speraw. “I met him many years ago, and I got to know him well during my coaching career. He was a great fan of the game and attended a lot of matches in Southern California. He was always quick with a smile and a greeting. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers this week are with his wife and family.”
Services will be held Wed., Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. at Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 South Western Ave. in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Story courtesy of UCLA