Thursday, April 14, 2005


Pacific looks
to play spoiler

The Tigers hope to end
a disappointing season with
a win or two against UH

Six months ago, the two teams met with equal expectations of success for the upcoming men's volleyball season. Both Hawaii and Pacific felt good about their fall exhibition interisland tour, which ended with the Warriors winning three of four matches against the Tigers.

MPSF Volleyball

Who: No. 13 Pacific (12-16, 6-14) at No. 5 Hawaii (17-8, 13-7)

When: Tomorrow and Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

TV: Both matches live, KFVE (Ch. 5)

Radio: None

Tickets: $3-14

Series: Hawaii leads 24-1, 13-0 in Honolulu

Tomorrow and Saturday, they meet again with drastically different visions. Hawaii is looking at locking up a home playoff berth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and extending the season into May.

UOP is looking at finishing the year with two victories and building on next season. The Tigers were eliminated from playoff contention last week, but very much can be successful at playing spoilers at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"I am a little surprised about their record," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said of the Tigers, who are tied for ninth in the 12-team conference. "I did expect them to have a better season. They were pretty good in the fall.

"They've had some injuries, which has impacted things. But they still have some good wins."

One of UOP's victories is over Brigham Young, which defeated Hawaii twice. The win over the Cougars on March 12 is the only one the Tigers have notched in their last nine matches.

"Physically, we haven't had consistency with our serving and passing," UOP coach Joe Wortmann said. "Psychologically, we haven't had sustained intensity, focus and the will to win.

"We will play as if there are playoff implications. I want the team to play as if we were in Hawaii's shoes. What we need to do is focus on what we can control, mainly our effort, our performance."

The goals for the Warriors are to continue to play well and gain momentum for the playoffs, which begin next week. Hawaii needs to win both in order to host a quarterfinal match on April 23.

"We're not worried so much about Pacific as we are about ourselves," UH associate coach Tino Reyes said. "There's only three games where we got blown out, last week at Long Beach and the two at BYU. The other ones we lost were because we didn't put teams away.

"As for next week, it doesn't matter who we play. We've got to play good. If we do that, we have a real good chance to beat most teams."

In order to beat Pacific, Hawaii must slow down a veteran offense led by seniors Brian Zodrow (4.69 kpg) and Nils Dauburs (38 aces, 2.77 kpg). Zodrow, a Saint Louis graduate, is one of two Hawaii products on the roster; the other is senior Bryson Metz (Kamehameha), averaging 2.00 kpg.

"They played well against us in fall and we definitely expect them to play well against us this week," Hawaii hitter Matt Bender said. "And, as Coach reminded us, they have two guys from here who will be playing the last games of their careers against us. You know they'll play hard."

The Warriors feel they have improved and matured since seeing the Tigers in mid-November.

"Our overall defense has gotten a lot better and so has our block," UH setter Brian Beckwith said. "Our offense is more fluid. We know what each person can do, what their role is. And our chemistry is there."

Wilton had been using practice statistics to determine his lineup. This week, he decided early to go with the starters from last Friday's win at Long Beach State: hitters Bender and Matt Carere, opposite Pedro Azenha, middles Dio Dante and Kyle Klinger, libero Alfred Reft and Beckwith.

The biggest battle had been at the second outside hitting spot among Carere, Jose Delgado, Lauri Hakala and Jake Schkud. Dante has replaced Mauli'a LaBarre, who is ninth nationally in block average (1.36 bpg) and 16th in hitting percentage (.435).

"It's a little late to be settling in on a lineup, but I like what this group has done," Wilton said. "Carere solidified our passing and Dio is doing a nice job in the middle.

"It doesn't matter who we play next week. We want to be at home, especially for academic reasons. We don't want these guys missing school for three weeks."

Note: Saturday's match is Senior Night for Azenha and backup setter Daniel Rasay. The two will be honored along with the seniors from the six other winter and spring sports.

Fans attending tomorrow's match will receive a two-for-one ticket coupon when bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to the Hawaii Food Bank.

Waves clinch title share: Pepperdine clinched a share of the MPSF regular-season title last night with a 3-1 win at UC Santa Barbara. The Waves improved to 19-2 in the MPSF, heading into tomorrow's match at Cal State Northridge. A loss to the Matadors coupled with two wins by UCLA would create a two-way tie for first place; the Bruins however would earn the top seed for next week's tournament via a tiebreaker.

Houston makes it official: Jamie Houston, a 6-foot-2 middle from Huntsville, Ala., has signed her letter of intent to play for the Rainbow Wahine this season.

She is a Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selection, a two-time Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year, and she played for the USA Junior National A2 Team last summer.

"Jamie is a very dynamic athlete who has a chance to make an immediate contribution," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "She can play more than one position, but is projected to be a left-side hitter for us."

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