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Sunday, November 9, 2003



[ UH VOLLEYBALL ]


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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Former Hawaii men's volleyball player Tony Ching participated in last night's intrasquad scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center. The scrimmage was organized to help pay for Ching's medical expenses from a scooter accident.


Warriors still
lean on Ching


It was, after all, his night. So what if the rules were bent a little to allow Tony Ching to play during his own fund-raiser at the Stan Sheriff Center?

The Hawaii men's volleyball intrasquad scrimmage was scheduled for only three games. But a last-minute change allowed for a Game 4 and a chance for the crowd of more than 4,000 to see Ching in a Warrior uniform again.

Nearly six months after his near-fatal scooter accident, the former outside hitter donned a White jersey, going against the Black. The All-American put down his first attempt in his trademark fashion, tooling off the left side of the block.

The crowd booed when Ching was stuffed by Pedro Azenha and Maulia LaBarre, but it was all in good fun as the Black defeated the White 22-30, 30-24, 30-27, 24-22.

"It meant a lot to him to get to play here again after the injury so that everybody could see he's doing OK," said Ching's mother Lynn. "We are so grateful for all the support."

Ching was just happy to be back out on the court.

"I would have loved to play better and wish I had a chance to train," said Ching. "But it was fun. I'm surprised but not surprised about the turnout tonight.

"When I first got injured, I had stacks and stacks of cards. I'm surprised that people wanted to come back again for this. But I like the team. They're young, need to work on their chemistry, but once they get that going, I like their chances."


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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Delano Thomas hit one through a block during an intrasquad match last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.


Particularly impressive last night was 6-foot-6 freshman setter Brian Beckwith, who is challenging for a starting spot against senior Kimo Tuyay, who sat out with an ankle injury, and junior Daniel Rasay.

"It's very rare that a freshman can step right in," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. "But it hasn't reached a point where we've said we're going to redshirt him.

"There was a little bit of nervousness at the start, especially for the new guys, but they settled right in. I think we can be a real good serving team, a real good ball-control team. We'll have good setting, we're getting better at blocking all the time. Overall, I think we'll have a good overall team."

The balance is there, and so is the height. The Black team featured four starters 6-5 and over in Beckwith, junior hitter Azenha (6-5), redshirt freshman middle Dio Dante (6-7) and sophomore middle LaBarre (6-8).

Azenha's serving was the key in Games 2 and 3. He had four aces in Game 2 and had another during a five-point run in Game 3. Two other serves that didn't show up as aces could be considered assists. The Black scored two points on service overpasses.

"The serving on the other side was pretty impressive," said White coach Aaron Wilton. "Pedro and Arri (senior hitter Jeschke) got on streaks.

"All in all, it was a good night. We got to see all of our players play and we saw some good things tonight."

Said Black coach Tino Reyes: "There are some things we need to work on, but overall we have more balance and depth this year. I like a lot of things. The one thing we're still looking for is a guy to carry the team."

Ching was that type of player during his four seasons. Last night, the Warriors got a chance to carry him.


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