RAINBOW WARRIOR VOLLEYBALL
Warriors' title quest begins with exhibitions
They have begun to see the light.
After weeks of predawn wake-up calls and 6 a.m. practices, the Hawaii men's volleyball team has started adding afternoon workouts to the regimen.
Jan. 6-7: Douglas (Canada), exhibition. 13-14: x-at UC Santa Barbara. 18: Outrigger Hotels Invitational--UCLA vs. Ohio State, 4 p.m.; Penn State vs. Hawaii. 19: OHI--UCLA vs. Penn State, 4 p.m.; Ohio State vs. Hawaii. 20: OHI--Penn State vs. Ohio State, 4 p.m.; UCLA vs. Hawaii. 25 and 27: x-UC Irvine.
Feb. 9-10: x-at Pepperdine. 16-17: x-Long Beach State. 27-28: x-at USC.
March 10-11: x-UCLA. 17-18: Loyola-Chicago. 25 and 27: x-at Pacific. 29-30: x-at Stanford.
April 7-8: x-UC San Diego. 14-15: x-BYU. 19: MPSF play-in, TBA. 22: MPSF quarterfinals, TBA. 27: MPSF semifinals, TBA. 29: MPSF final, TBA.
May 4 and 6: NCAA final four, Penn State.
x-denotes Mountain Pacific Sports Federation
All home games 7 p.m., unless noted, Stan Sheriff Center
Although it meant two-a-days were in full swing the week before school starts, it was a welcome addition for a number of Warriors who admitted to not being morning people.
"It's great," team captain Alfred Reft said during yesterday's media day session in Gym I. "It's good to get back to our afternoon routine.
"Morning workouts are good, gets the day going, but ... "
The team has had enough of the caffeine and bed-head jokes. It's time to get serious, beginning with this week's two 7 p.m. exhibitions against Douglas College of British Columbia. Hawaii will use the matches against the Canadians as a tune-up to opening the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation season on the road at UC Santa Barbara, Jan. 13-14.
The Warriors, ranked fifth in the MPSF's preseason coaches poll, return most of their starting lineup from last year's 19-9 team. Gone is All-American hitter Pedro Azenha -- the team's kill leader -- as well as reserve setter Daniel Rasay, but the senior-laden Warriors expect success from their balanced, veteran roster.
"Everyone has made huge improvements this past semester," junior setter Brian Beckwith said. "Everyone has put in the extra effort to really step up their game, from the guy that never sees the court to someone who's always on it.
"I've seen big improvements all around, a different attitude. We know we have the ability, we know we have the skills."
One of the biggest changes is at assistant coach, where former Warrior Jason Salmeri has replaced Aaron Wilton. Wilton is in graduate school and coaching the UC Davis men's club team.