Thursday, November 11, 1999
UH men will
Coach Mike Wilton'sBy Cindy Luis
volleyball team has high
expectations for itself
It is a badge of honor. A sweaty badge, but one still worn with honor and pride.
Hundreds of great volleyball players have slid across the well-worn floor, long before the swiffer sweeper - the newest damp mop - was introduced. Now, too, Stefan Krejci can go home to Austria and share a story of playing in Klum Gym.
Krejci, one of 11 newcomers on the Hawaii men's volleyball team, had a successful debut at setter last night. He was the quarterback for the Green team in its 15-13, 8-15, 15-2 victory over the White in the Block Party IV intrasquad scrimmage.
"Tonight was really fun,'' said Krejci, who played for the same Austrian club team as former Rainbow Nick Berger. "I never expected something like this, with all the fans, although I know the arena has even more. I can now go back to Austria and share the experience of Klum with Nick.
"I hope the people got excited tonight. We tried our best but we have a lot of room to improve. We have some dangerous guys.''
Perhaps the most improved from last season is the dangerous Clay Stanley, who spent the summer with the U.S. national team. The 6-foot-9 junior kept the White in the match with his 22 kills, hitting .412.
Returning junior middle Brenton Davis looked good as well, putting down 20 kills with six block assists for the Green.
The Rainbows picked up a pair of 6-foot-2 heavy hitters in the offseason - freshmen Konstantinos "Kostas'' Theocharidis of Greece and Israeli Eyal Zimet. Zimet's playing style is reminiscent of former All-American Yuval Katz, complete with the heater serve (4 aces last night).
Hawaii also has two freshmen who impressed the crowd of 600 as well as coach Mike Wilton. Doing well last night in helping the Green's cause were Kamehameha product Tony Ching (14 kills) and K.C. Steed from Texas.
"Every day, Tony asks me, 'Coach, am I going to redshirt?''' said Wilton. "He's a good player. I don't think so.''
It was Ching's serve that broke open Game 1 for the Green as he served for five straight points in putting his team ahead for good at 12-8.
In Game 2, the White got their passing together and jumped to a 12-4 lead. The scoreboard froze at that point - the only cold thing in the gym - while Steed served for four points to close to 12-8.
Stanley drilled three straight serves as the White pulled it out. But that would be their last hurrah; Krejci continually set balls that looked to be overpasses and the Green began the Game 3 rout with a 9-0 run.
As good as the defense was on both sides, the smartest play was turned in by the Green when ducking the projectile off Stanley's swing to give them match point. Steed finished it off with an ace.
"The Green had better ball control and that was the difference,'' said Wilton. "I thought it was pretty good volleyball overall. I didn't learn much but I knew it would be real entertaining.
"One day in practice, I put together a possible first team with Kostas, Torry (Tukuafu), Eyal, Clayton and Brenton. It was scary. When people see these guys, the secret will be out.''
Theocharidis finished with 18 kills for the Green. Zimet put down 14 kills for the White while Tukuafu added 11 kills and 6 block assists.
Setting the White team was the Rainbows' lone senior, Russell Lockwood. He likely will play the new libero position, a floating back-row specialist.
"We have so many great guys on this team, a lot of big bangers,'' said Lockwood. "We don't have as much depth as last year but our top eight guys are better than what we've ever had.
"I think the summer with the national team really helped Clay. I expect him to have an All-American year.''
"We've got a lot of great players,'' said Stanley. "It's a matter of coming together. Now, we'll get ready for Alberta.''
The Rainbows host the University of Alberta for four matches during Thanksgiving week. The teams play in Klum Gym Nov. 23, at Afook-Chinen Civic in Hilo Nov. 24, Konawaena High Nov. 25 and the War Memorial Gym on Maui on Nov. 26.
NOTE: A few seats are available in the booster section for the regular season and will be sold at the regular season-ticket price of $170. The reserved seats are for this season only and will not be automatically renewable for the following year. For more information, call Fred Ing at 488-4695.