FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
UCI's Brent Asuka came up with the ball on a shot from Hawaii during a Jan. 25 match at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Asuka digging it at UCI
He was a gift. A walk-on who John Speraw calls a "terrific find" for his UC Irvine volleyball program.
Speraw didn't know just how terrific libero Brent Asuka would be. Asuka (Iolani '05) is leading the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in digs against league opponents with 3.93 dpg, 3.08 in all matches.
The freshman, dubbed "Asuka da Scoopa" by the UCI sports information department, has had double-digit dig totals in the Anteaters' past five matches, averaging 14.6 digs during that time for fourth-ranked UCI (8-3).
"He deserves talking about," Speraw said. "He was a great digger from Day 1, dazzling the guys with his defensive ability. But his passing wasn't there yet. Then, early in the season, his passing was there but not his digging.
"Now he's started to put it all together. As a freshman, he's doing great things out there. But he has so much more to experience, so much room to grow and become stronger. As a senior, he's going to be a very solid player."
Asuka's career high of 19 came in a 3-1 loss at Pepperdine. He had 114 of UCI's 390 digs going into last night's match against Cal State Northridge. Asuka has also not committed a ball-handling error in 37 games.
So far, so good said the biology major.
"It's good fun," Asuka said. "I'm just trying to find time to do everything, with school and volleyball. We've been working really hard in practice."
Asuka, a two-time All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu selection, got a taste of home when he and the Anteaters played last month at the Stan Sheriff Center. UCI split its MPSF matches against Hawaii, with Asuka coming up with 28 digs in the two nights.
While he misses the beaches and local food, Asuka said one thing was staving off homesickness. There's an L&L Hawaiian Barbecue not far from the UCI campus.
» Isaac Kneubuhl (Kamehameha '03) is fourth in kills for No. 5 Cal State Northridge. The junior outside hitter is averaging 2.77 kpg and hitting .272, with seven aces, 62 digs and 18 blocks for the Matadors.
» Jon Grobe (Iolani '02) ranks in several Mountain Pacific Sports Federation categories The junior hitter is 10th in kills (3.84 kpg) and digs (2.05 dpg), and tied for ninth in points (kills, blocks, aces) with 4.47 per game.