Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Friday, March 19, 2004

Beat BYU? Just bothering
BYU is enough for
Hawaii fans

FIRST, this was against BYU. You need to know this to put it in proper context. It was BYU in the house, which meant that everything gets taken up a notch. Or two.

Or 10.

Hawaii fans do not like BYU. They just don't. You know that. That's why you are foaming at the mouth while reading this article.

There is a lot to dislike. Their colors. Mascot. The way one of their guys last night seemed to be wearing some kind of weight lifting belt.

LaVell Edwards (though I hear in real life, when he isn't crushing the dreams of your favorite football team, he really is a fine human being).

Let's face it, those initials somehow sound best when spat out: B-Y-U.

Oh, and BYU is ranked No. 1 in the nation.


Then, the Hawaii men's volleyball team. Down several guys last night, suspended, due to rules violations. Not conference rules or school rules. Mike Wilton's team rules. And they're out, as he said this week, because some things are more important than winning.

(Anybody else choked up with emotion yet?)

And a bunch of backups were going to take on BYU.

THEY WERE LOOSE before this thing started. They were a bunch of funny guys during the pregame introductions, "psyche"-ing people while tossing headbands into the crowd. Matt Bender did a Lambeau leap move to add a pregame smooch.

Wilton loved it. The coach smiled big.

On the first point Kimo Tuyay, the captain who'd lost his starting spot before this night, exploded. His face did, with a smile like the sun. His body did, putting about 8 feet between his sneakers and the Stan Sheriff Center floor.

He looked like a little kid.

Cue the "One Shining Moment" music.

But then the first two games went by quickly. Balls went long, or into the net. Digs weren't dug. Swings came right back at them. Blocks went wide.

You could see these guys were backups, going up against No. 1 BYU.

There would be no inspirational miracle, even on the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, the start of that 48-hour period when every underdog has his day.

But then came the third game.

Oh, my goodness, these guys were doing it.

Tuyay looked like he just absolutely could not believe what was happening (in a good way, of course). After one kill, Bender screamed. A long scream, maybe four seconds long, all of the emotion of the night coming out of his gut.

The crowd -- a small one for a BYU night, at 3,238 -- was losing it. (In a good way, of course.)

When the final point went down Bender swung a fist, and Evan Dobelle, sitting courtside, pounded the table in triumph.

And then Game 4.


But then BYU eked it out, in the end, and it was over. The guys were back to being backups, and BYU was back to being No. 1.

They hurt, then. They'd had their moment. If only that.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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