Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, April 23, 2002


Middle blocker Delano Thomas is one of the most athletic players on the team, according to teammate Dejan Miladinovic.

Thomas is UH’s
secret weapon

The middle blocker missed the
regular-season road matches
against UCSB and Pepperdine

By Grace Wen

At this point in the season, there aren't too many ways the Hawaii volleyball team can pull a fast one on its next opponent.

With the new conference format and two matches against every team in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, there's not a whole lot any team can hide when the postseason rolls around.

But the Warriors' actually have a trick or two tucked into their aloha print shorts. When they play UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals (Thursday, 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time at Pepperdine), the Warriors have the advantage of throwing a different lineup at the Gauchos.

Freshman Delano Thomas is an unknown quantity to UCSB and Pepperdine. The 6-foot-7 middle blocker missed the Warriors' regular-season road matches against both schools. Thomas wasn't fulfilling academic obligations and was left at home during both trips.

"I'm really excited to play both of them," Thomas said. And he's happy that his mother Kathleen O'Connor is making the trip from Sacramento, Calif., to watch.

Thomas has played well since he was cleared to play earlier this month. The freshman is pounding 1.88 kills per game and is right behind middle blocker Dejan Miladinovic in hitting efficiency, with a .429 percentage.

And Thomas jump-starts Hawaii's defense with his serving. Most of his serves have resulted in easy points for the Warriors at the net. He is second on the team in aces with 14, but the total could be higher had he played in all of the Warriors' matches.

Though Thomas is only a rookie, Hawaii assistant coach Tino Reyes is confident in the middle blocker's ability. Reyes says that with Thomas in the lineup, the Warriors' chances of winning the tournament are good.

"I don't know if we would have won all three (matches that he missed), but I liked our chances with him in there," Reyes said. "He has to play well, but he gives us size in the middle. And he gives us strength, immensely. I just like our chances with him."

Added Warriors coach Mike Wilton:

"He's 6-7, he jumps 11-8, it's going to be a big difference having him. It's also going to be good to have Tony there, too. It makes us that much deeper and that much stronger."

Ching missed the UCSB series after being sick with pneumonia.

Zimet honored: Warriors' captain Eyal Zimet was named the AVCA National Player of the Week. It is the first time the junior has received national recognition in his career at UH.

Zimet led the Warriors' attack with a .733 hitting percentage against Long Beach State. The 6-2 outside hitter crushed 12 kills in 15 attempts, dug a match-high five balls and had three blocks in Hawaii's sweep.

"I'm very surprised," Zimet said. "I don't really pay attention to these personal awards. I'm looking for the team award at the end of the year. And that's what we're concentrating on right now."

UH Athletics

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