Saturday, October 30, 2004


Wilton’s Warriors
on display today

The coach expects this year’s team
to be exciting to watch

How entertaining is this year's Hawaii Warriors volleyball team?

If Mike Wilton were simply an interested fan, he said he'd pay to see today's 10 a.m. intrasquad scrimmage. However, the Warriors coach won't have to ... and neither will anyone else who wants to get a sneak peek at the 2005 squad in Gym I.

The exhibition is free.

"All I can say is people would get their money's worth if we charged," Wilton said. "I really like our new kids. They fit in real well and have followed the lead of the returnees in terms of work ethic.

"Every year, our offense fits our personnel and this team is capable of playing pretty fast. This team rocks every day in practice and I'm having so much fun with them."

The Warriors started preseason camp with nearly 40 hopefuls. The roster has since been whittled to 19, with two more redshirt transfers arriving for the second semester.

Battles are going on for every position, especially at setter, where 6-foot-1 senior Daniel Rasay is going against 6-4 sophomore Brian Beckwith.

"Daniel's been playing really well and he's really stepped up into the leadership role as the captain," said Beckwith, who started 18 of the team's 29 matches last season. "He has a new kind of presence and confidence on the court.

"It's making it real tough on me, but it's helping me. He's pushing me."

Beckwith will be reunited with former high school and club teammate Jake Schkud, who transferred after a redshirt year at UC Santa Barbara. The 6-4 Schkud is currently playing middle, his position for most of his high school career.

"Jake is really athletic and we have a great connection since we've played together so much," Beckwith said. "We have great chemistry. As a setter, I believe the offense starts with the middle and everything else revolves around that.

"I think this team has a way better chance to get to the final four. We're more comfortable with each other and we have new players who are going to help us a lot."

One of the newcomers is Lauri Hakala, an explosive 6-2 hitter from Finland who "hits the poop out of the ball," Beckwith said. "Ask me to name a starting six and I couldn't. But if you put any six out there, we'd be fine. We're all playing our hearts out and that is making us a stronger and better team.

"The hardest part about this season will be making it into the starting lineup."

The Warriors have 11 returnees from last season's 17-12 team. The only seniors are Rasay and 6-8 Delano Thomas, who was used as both a middle and an outside hitter.

Gym I has no stands, so spectators should bring beach chairs today. Beckwith isn't expecting a big crowd.

"Probably just the booster club and family members like my mom who just got into town," Beckwith said. "But whoever comes will be entertained."

Status update: Junior middle Maulia LaBarre hasn't finished his conditioning testing but is expected to play today. Freshman middle Kyle Klinger is waiting on results of a bone scan for a possible fractured foot.



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