Warriors put down Douglas
The block came back so hard and so fast that Matt Carere didn't have time to react before the ball nailed him in the face. The crowd's collective thought regarding the first play of last night's volleyball exhibition between Hawaii and Douglas?
"That will leave a mark."
Carere's response left a deeper impression.
The senior outside hitter from Canada put down six kills with just one error, hitting .455 against his compatriots as the Warriors dominated the Royals from British Columbia, 30-13, 30-17, 30-24 in 74 minutes. A Stan Sheriff Center crowd estimated at 2,100 saw UH junior Eric Kalima have an even more impressing performance, making his debut as an outside hitter with eight kills and no errors on 11 swings (.727) in two games.
"My MVP? Eric Kalima," said Carere, who's also from British Columbia. "He's the man."
Kalima, who spent the past two years as a backup libero, also added four of Hawaii's eight service aces.
Senior hitter Jose Delgado led the Warriors with 10 kills, with one error on 14 attempts. He had seven kills with no errors in eight swings in Game 2 alone.
Hawaii was so completely in control that Warriors coach Mike Wilton used 12 of his 13 roster players before the second game was pau. The last one to get in was freshman Mark Ribeiro, who entered with his team leading 18-13 in the third game.
"I finally got in and it was amazing to get out there," said Ribeiro, who had three kills with no errors in hitting .600. "Coach gave me my shot, said he had faith. It was great that everyone got a chance to play."
Wilton expects to stay with his starters a little longer in tonight's rematch at 7. Hawaii opens conference play next week at UC Santa Barbara and the Warriors need to quickly find a replacement for senior opposite Matt Bender.
Bender is expected to be out 5-6 weeks with a severely injured left ankle.
"We're trying to find someone to play that spot, who can bring some hit, hit the ball with some authority," Wilton said.
He has plenty of options from which to choose, from Delgado to junior Lauri Hakala to sophomore Jake Schkud. All three gave Douglas problems, as did Hawaii's three middles, who combined for 11 kills with two errors on 16 attempts.
Senior Mauli'a La Barre was the most efficient Warrior. He had no errors in putting down six of his seven attempts. As a team, Hawaii hit .531 to .065 for Douglas.
The Royals were led by Jay Kube, who had seven kills and two aces.
"I was pretty pleased with our play, even though the score didn't look good," Douglas coach Mike Sapic said. "Our game plan was to get over the initial nerves against a very tough team in a great environment. It took some time to adjust to their jump serves, but we finally settled down.
"Hawaii is a very solid team, very athletic, very skilled and deep at every position. For most of our guys, this will be the highlight of their careers. We want to improve on what we did toward the end of the night."
"I know Douglas didn't think they played as well as they could play, and we know we didn't play as well as we can," Carere said. "We didn't control the ball at the end of the match.
"We need to keep our ball-control level up and keep an even keel. We all have things we can improve on ... and I've got to teach (the Warriors) how to sing 'Oh, Canada.' "