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Tuesday, March 25, 2003


[ UH VOLLEYBALL ]



UH



Tritons provide
little test for Warriors
over spring break

Hawaii hopes to get healthy against
the MPSF's bottom feeders


By Grace Wen
gwen@starbulletin.com

Realistically, this week will be more recuperative than challenging for the Hawaii volleyball team.

The second-ranked Warriors are on spring break in San Diego and have matches tomorrow and Friday against UC San Diego, the last-place team in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Hawaii's biggest problem will be staying focused long enough to defeat the Tritons (5-16, 1-15 MPSF) and extend their seven-match win streak.

The Warriors (17-5, 11-5) will get senior Tony Ching back but how much he'll play is uncertain. Ching was bedridden with the flu and missed both matches against Pacific last week.

"I feel a lot better. I'm still not 100 percent but getting there," Ching said yesterday before the Warriors departed for the airport. "I'll see what Coach thinks and how I practice. ... I'm not in shape for it right now. It'll be good (to come back against UCSD) because they're not as tough as Pepperdine."

Nor will the environment be as tough as the Waves fieldhouse. Rimac Arena can accommodate 5,000 people but the Tritons have only had more than 300 people attend a match three times this season.

Setter Kimo Tuyay knows there will be a good chunk of people at the arena rooting for the Warriors. The San Diego native expects 20 to 30 friends and family for the matches.

"It's always good to come home and play in front of people you know and people you don't get to see much," Tuyay said. "They're a good team. They beat USC. They took some games off other teams. You can't underestimate them. We still have to play hard. If we serve well and keep serving well, we'll be fine. We still have to play hard and get after it."

But a pro-Hawaii crowd might not do much to fire up the Warriors.

"It'll be quiet. They're on spring break," Warriors coach Mike Wilton said. "It's never a hostile environment there, ever. I've never noticed heckling there before. You might get a couple of hundred people when they're in school. It's good to have people yelling at our guys. We can go to sleep at home. When we go on the road, it's such a benign environment.

"(The Tritons) get the most out of their personnel. They're well coached. If you don't play well, you're in for a hard night. The key is to be emotionally and mentally prepared."

It would take a heavy bout of snoozing for UCSD to steal a match from Hawaii. The Tritons have as many wins as the Warriors have losses. Their record isn't embarrassing, it's the reality of being a Division II school with no scholarships.

That the Tritons are considered a danger is a compliment to a program struggling to gain footing in the nation's toughest conference. Earlier this season, UCSD took two matches against Midwest power Ohio State. Two weeks ago, the Tritons came back from being down 2-0 to upset USC in five. Junior Jim Waller blasted 26 kills in the comeback win against the Trojans and averages 5.06 kills a game.

Notes: Both matches will be broadcast live on 1420-AM beginning at 4:45 p.m. Hawaii time.



UH Athletics



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