FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lauri Hakala, who had a match-high 16 kills for Hawaii, looked for an opening against Wesley Webb of Douglas.
Hakala, Warriors subdue Royals
It wasn't the Olympics, but it seemed like it, with the playing of the U.S. and Canadian anthems and Hawaii Pono'i prior to last night's exhibition between the Hawaii and Douglas men's volleyball teams at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The way Lauri Hakala played, they should have added Finland's "Maamme" to the mix.
The junior from Pieksamaki made a strong case for being the Warriors' starting opposite when they open conference play this week at UC Santa Barbara with his performance. Hakala put down a match-high 16 kills, hitting .480, to lead Hawaii to a 30-16, 30-18, 30-15 sweep of the Canadians from New Westminster, British Columbia, in 80 minutes.
A turnstile crowd of 1,644 saw the Warriors dominate for a second straight night, outblocking the shorter Royals 10-0. Setter Brian Beckwith and middles Kyle Klinger and Dio Dante were in on four stuffs each, leading to a .000 hitting night for Douglas.
The night, however, belonged to Hakala, who is hoping to replace injured senior Matt Bender on the right side.
"It's still a new job for me and there will be errors," he said, "but it will gradually get better. I felt good out there."
Hakala was good from the start, with 10 kills and just one error in 15 swings through the early part of Game 3. Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said he considered subbing him out after Game 2, "but I liked what I saw. Next week? He still has next week's practices to go through but I'm going to leave him over there for now."
"Lauri was a little shaky (Friday) but turned it on tonight," Beckwith said. "We need him to feel confidence and to feel comfortable out there. We need consistency at that position."
Hawaii also needs consistency from the service line. The Warriors had eight aces -- including three each by Klinger and Dante -- but also gave up 16 points on service errors.
Still, the Warriors were good when they had to be and big when they needed to be. The Royals made a few stands -- most notably when taking a 12-11 lead in Game 2 -- but often ran into the Hawaii wall of blockers that averaged 6-foot-6 or taller.
"It's hard out there when you're 5-10," Royals hitter Wesley Webb said. "But this was a huge learning experience for us."
Having the most success for Douglas was Nathan Veysey, who had 10 of his team's 22 kills.
Dante added seven kills and Klinger five in playing the first two games. Hawaii had a combined nine errors, three in each of the games.
"I tried to spread out the offense," said Beckwith, who set Games 1 and 2. "I tried to get everyone involved so that no one goes in cold next week."
The Warriors take on the Gauchos on Friday and Saturday in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation openers for both teams.
Note: Bender was on the bench last night, with his left ankle in a boot. He is expected to be out for at least five weeks after suffering ligament damage in last Tuesday's practice.