Well-rested Warriors face USC
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation schedule maker did the Hawaii volleyball team no favors when having the Warriors play four matches in five days to close out the month.
Hawaii at USC
When: Today and tomorrow, 5 p.m. HST
Radio: Both matches live, KKEA 1420-AM
However, due to a quirk in the schedule, No. 4 Hawaii will actually be better rested than tonight's opponent. While the Warriors enjoyed a day off yesterday with family and friends, No. 13 USC was returning to Los Angeles from Stockton, Calif., following Saturday's surprising four-game loss at Pacific.
Although the Trojans (8-9 overall, 5-7 MPSF) have lost five of their last six, they have already won more matches -- both overall and in league -- than in any of the past four seasons. Helping the resurgence are two players from Loyola High, three blocks away from the USC campus -- sophomore setter Jimmy Killian and freshman opposite C.J. Schellenberg.
It will seem like homecoming tonight and tomorrow, with two other ex-Loyola greats on the opposite side of the court. Hawaii junior setter Brian Beckwith and sophomore hitter Jake Schkud led Loyola to a 20-0 season and the first of three straight CIF championships.
"There's added incentive, playing SC, with so many past schoolmates and teammates playing for them," Beckwith said. "It will be fun to play against them."
If Hawaii continues to block as well as it did against Cal State Northridge last week, it won't be much fun for the Trojans hitters. The Warriors had a combined 38 blocks in the two wins over the Matadors, including 20 in Saturday's three-game sweep.
Hawaii's goals this week are to continue to win -- the Warriors are on a five-match roll -- and keep improving.
"As long as we serve and pass well, we'll win games," UH senior middle Mauli'a La Barre said. "We want to take what we learn from the Northridge series and move on. The road takes a lot out of you, but we're used to playing long road trips. The guys know the routine. We need to be ready, physically and mentally."
The Warriors got a big lift emotionally Saturday with the return of Matt Bender. The senior opposite, sidelined since spraining his ankle seven weeks ago, came off the bench in the middle of Game 2 to spark Hawaii with eight kills and four blocks.