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Sunday, April 6, 2003



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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Tony Ching and Brian Nordberg celebrated a point as the Warriors beat UC Santa Barbara in four games last night.




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MPSF standings


By Grace Wen
gwen@starbulletin.com

With Hawaii's spot in the conference playoffs already secured, it appears the second-ranked Warriors have turned on the cruise control.

Hawaii is more experienced and more talented than UC Santa Barbara yet never clearly rose above its competition. The Warriors played below their level but still defeated the Gauchos 30-24, 30-27, 27-30, 30-23 yesterday at the Stan Sheriff Center. A crowd of 4,397 watched the Warriors win their 11th straight and improve to 21-5 overall and 15-5 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. The 15th-ranked Gauchos fall to 9-19 and 4-16.

"We didn't play very well," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. "The first two were kind of OK. Game 3, you don't miss eight serves and beat anybody. Not in our league. Costas was really tired and out of gas. Just out of gas."

An illness-weakened Costas Theocharidis (16 kills, two aces) finished among Hawaii's hitting leaders despite being pulled in the final game. Four Hawaii hitters finished in double digits, led by senior Tony Ching (17 kills, .323). Eyal Zimet chipped in 12 kills, while middle Delano Thomas crushed 10 kills in 13 swings with no errors. Thomas also had a hand on five blocks, but it was UCSB transfer Brian Nordberg who put up the biggest wall for the Warriors. Nordberg had eight stuffs and also pounded seven kills.

There were 12 ties before Hawaii made a mini-run midway through Game 1. The Warriors scored three straight off a Gaucho hitting error, an ace by Theocharidis, and a Ching blast of an overpass to go up 20-17. That was all Hawaii needed as USCB didn't manage to score more than one point at a time to make any runs of its own.

Hawaii was never comfortably ahead in Game 2, but the Warriors were steadier than the Gauchos in the final stretch of the game. UCSB took its last lead at 26-25 on a stuff by Justin Adams and Dane Jensen, but the Gauchos made three hitting errors to give the lead back to Hawaii. The Warriors finished the game behind the hitting of Ching, who delivered three kills, including the game-winner to push Hawaii's lead to 2-0 in the match.

UCSB hit a lukewarm .111 in Game 3 but managed to dig enough of Hawaii's attacks to keep pace with the Warriors. The Gauchos scrambled on defense and outdug the Warriors 16-13 in the game. UCSB didn't have the fire power to finish transition plays, but it didn't matter, with Hawaii hitting a paltry .116 (15 kills, 10 errors). The Warriors also missed a whopping eight serves, the same number they missed in the first two games combined.

UCSB stayed with Hawaii in Game 4 before the Warriors' blocking took over. Hawaii had a solid wall at the net as it roofed three straight UCSB attacks to take a commanding 25-18 lead in the game. Hawaii also got a lift from freshman Pedro Azenha, who came off the bench for Theocharidis.

"Pedro came in and was the man of the hour," Wilton said. "He gave us some fresh legs and some timely kills, a good serve and a nice block. Good energy, actually. We needed that.

"I heard some of my guys talking in Game 3 that it feels like we're carrying around two 45-pound plates on our shoulders. Give Santa Barbara some credit. That setter (Dane Jensen) came in and did a nice job. He strengthened their blocking and made some nice plays tonight."

Adam Ulfers led the Gauchos with 15 kills.

Hawaii concludes the regular season next week with two home conference matches against USC (6-23, 2-18). Saturday will be senior night for Theocharidis, Zimet, Ching and Nordberg.

Notes: With Friday's victory against the Gauchos, the Warriors posted their fourth 20-win season under Wilton.


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MPSF standings


Conference

Overall


W L Pct. W L

Pepperdine 18 2 .900 21 3

BYU 16 4 .800 18 5

Hawaii 15 5 .750 21 5

Pacific 12 7 .632 18 10

Stanford 11 8 .579 14 11

Northridge 11 9 .550 17 10

Irvine 11 9 .550 18 9

UCLA 9 11 .450 14 13

Long Beach State 9 11 .450 15 12

Santa Barbara 4 16 .200 8 19

USC 2 18 .100 6 23

San Diego 1 19 .050 5 20

Yesterday

Pepperdine def. UCLA, 3-0

Stanford def. UC San Diego, 3-0

UC Irvine def. USC, 3-1

Hawaii def. UC Santa Barbara, 3-1



Hawaii def. UCSB

30-24, 30-27, 27-30, 30-23

Gauchos (9-19, 4-16) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Kowalski 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Wack 4 13 5 25 .320 0 1 3

Ulfers 4 15 7 31 .258 0 2 5

Busam 4 11 8 27 .111 0 2 5

Kennedy 4 6 1 11 .455 0 3 3

Adams 4 9 2 21 .333 0 7 2

Jensen 4 0 0 3 .000 0 5 6

Zegarra 3 3 3 12 .000 0 0 4

Mansfield 4 0 0 0 .000 0 0 13

Boelk 2 0 3 6 -.500 0 2 0

Totals 4 57 29 136 .206 0 22 37

Warriors (21-5, 15-5) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Tuyay 3 3 1 4 .500 0 4 0

Zimet 4 12 3 26 .346 0 2 5

Theocharidis 4 16 7 43 .209 0 5 6

Ching 4 17 7 31 .323 0 4 6

Nordberg 4 7 2 12 .417 0 8 1

Thomas 4 10 0 13 .769 0 5 4

Muise 4 0 0 0 .000 0 0 11

Azenha 1 2 2 4 .000 0 1 1

Bender 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Rasay 1 1 2 3 -.333 0 0 2

Totals 4 68 24 136 .324 0 29 36

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.

Aces -- UCSB (2): Busam 2; Hawaii (3): Theocharidis 2, Zimet. Assists -- UCSB (56):Jensen 51, Adams 2, Kowalski, Ulfers, Busam; Hawaii (66):Tuyay 46, Rasay 13, Zimet 2, Thomas 2, Muise 2, Ching.

T -- 2:18. Officials -- Dan Hironaka, Ernest Ho. A -- 4,397.



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