With all the whistles, screams, high-fives and bouncing balls, it is rarely quiet at Gallaudet Field House these days.

Those producing this distinct din -- more than 150 athletes from five Washington-area and 13 out-of-area teams -- have congregated at Gallaudet University for the American Deaf Volleyball Association's 1990 national tournament. Play continues today with men's and women's quarterfinal matches at 9 a.m.

Although some players hear better than others (either naturally or by using hearing aids), teams rarely are affected by the lack of hearing.

Shouts and sign languages are effective communication devices, as displayed by the Greater Washington Association for the Deaf's "Black" team -- the three-time national champions who were 10-0 in pool play yesterday to advance to the quarterfinals against Colorado's Rocky Mountain Association of the Deaf.

"The first thing you have to do is get someone's attention," said GWAD's Charlie Holmes, 29, a three-time member of the U.S. national deaf team who played for Gallaudet from 1982 through '84. "We have to use a lot of gestures. It's sometimes difficult, but what really helps is a team's knowledge of each other. That lessens the need for communication during a game."

GWAD's "Red" team, formed during the spring and led by California native Jeff McClean, posted an 8-0 record to win Pool A and will play Minnepaul of Minnesota in the quarterfinals. McClean, who earlier in the week was named to the national deaf team for the second time, played collegiately at Cal State-Northridge.

"The biggest difference is that the guys in college are a lot younger," said McClean, 25. "One of the best teams here has players over 30."

In the eight-team women's division, a group of former Gallaudet players went 9-0 in pool play at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf to earn a bye into the semifinals.

The tournament concludes a week of volleyball at Gallaudet. In addition to Friday's eight-team exhibition, U.S. men's national deaf team coach Mark Swaya conducted tryouts Tuesday through Thursday in search of players to compete in the World Games for the Deaf in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1993.

Swaya, a club-team player from Chicago in his first year as coach of the men's national deaf team, also has served as a regional referee and scorekeeper for the U.S. Volleyball Association. During the tryouts, which attracted 27 participants, Swaya chose six of the 12 players he plans to take to Bulgaria -- including GWAD's Brian Bippus, John Macko, Holmes and McClean. Swaya also designated 13 others for a U.S. developmental team.

"Right now, we couldn't play evenly with a {NCAA} Division I men's team," Swaya said. "But as each of the next three years goes by, we're going to get closer and closer to that level."

Swaya has scheduled a four-day practice session beginning Monday to prepare his players for an exhibition against a USVBA team during the 1990 Friendship Games, which start Thursday at Gallaudet. The Friendship Games -- featuring teams from the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union -- are a three-day competition scheduled to include men's basketball, men's and women's track and field, and wrestling.

Swaya has studied various sign languages for two years and plans to continue his lessons so he can better coach a team that has failed to win a medal since the inception of the World Games for the Deaf in 1924.

"For the time being, I can communicate effectively," Swaya said. "But I have to learn as much signing during the next three years as {my players} have to learn volleyball."