Hawaii hopes a big gun steps up
The Warriors need a dominant hitter, starting tonight against UC Irvine
The door is open. Now it's time to see who steps through it.
This year's Hawaii men's volleyball team prides itself on balance and unity, brought about by having no real star. But the Warriors are desperately seeking someone to become the go-to guy, a terminator, a momentum changer.
Who: No. 4 UC Irvine (6-2, 3-1) at No. 7 Hawaii (3-3, 1-2).
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: Live, KKEA (1420-AM)
Series: Hawaii leads 25-4
Soon. As in tonight.
No. 7 Hawaii looks to stop a two-match skid as well as regain its quick offense against No. 4 UC Irvine. On Wednesday, the Warriors' play against the Anteaters resembled yesterday's rain-induced traffic slowdown on H-1, a stop-and-go mess that resulted in being swept.
"I think we're all waiting for someone to step up," UH junior setter Brian Beckwith said yesterday. "Unfortunately, Alfie (senior libero Reft) and I are in positions where we can't be the go-to guys.
"The door is open and we're waiting for someone to grab hold."
Reft, the primary passer, and Beckwith are the first two steps, the keys, to running Hawaii's attack. Wednesday, the Anteaters tried to keep their serves away from Reft -- he was perfect on all 11 receptions -- and UCI's hitters found spots where Reft often couldn't get to the ball.
"I felt like I had very few touches on the ball," said Reft, who had 10 digs. "I felt like a spectator more than I felt involved. And that's not a good feeling for a libero. You want to touch as many balls as possible.
"They (the Anteaters) didn't do anything we haven't seen before. It's not technique, it's nothing we don't know how to do. It's about wanting the ball, wanting the ball all the time. It's more of a psyche thing than physical."
Reft said being more aggressive tonight was going to be one of his goals. It's the same for his UCI counterpart, freshman libero Brent Asuka.
"I played OK; I can do better," said Asuka, who had a match-high 13 digs. "I need to be more aggressive, talk more, be more of a leader.
"I think it's possible to beat Hawaii again. We need to play our game, play Anteater volleyball and be lucky again. They're a good team."
UCI coach John Speraw expects to see a different Hawaii team tonight. But just who he'll see is another question.
"The thing about Hawaii is they are so deep," Speraw said. "They kept making those subs (Wednesday) and it's hard to figure out what they're going to do, their tendencies, the distributions.
"They were coming in all over, switching positions. It ruins your game plan."
The Warriors basically threw the kitchen sink at the Anteaters, looking for some kind of spark. The revolving door included hitter Lauri Hakala going from opposite to bench to left-side and converted middle Jake Schkud from the bench to left to opposite, with all three middles seeing the court.
Although having to adjust to that many players is hard, Beckwith said that wasn't the problem. It was the passing ... or rather the lack of it.
"The balls were all over the place," he said. "They were tormenting our passers. It's tough to get into any rhythm with the option, or even to have more than one option.
"It was definitely slow motion. We came out way too cold. It was frustrating to see. We work real hard and it's frustrating to see it melt down that quickly in the simple skills. But, without a doubt, we can turn it around."
Notes: Hawaii has a 25-4 series lead, but the Anteaters have won three of the last six meetings. ... In his third year as a UCI assistant is former UH All-American Mark Presho (1990-93). ... In the MPSF last night, Iolani product Jon Grobe had a team-high 16 kills and No. 3 Pepperine upset top-ranked Long Beach State 3-1 at The Pyramid. ... BYU also remained undefeated with a 3-1 victory at UCLA.