Warriors get past 49ers twice
New lineups and rotations didn't seem to hurt the University of Hawaii men's volleyball team too much last night.
The Warriors got their newcomers involved and relied on their veterans when they needed to in two exhibition wins against Long Beach State at the Stan Sheriff Center.
While the regular season doesn't begin until Jan. 12 against UC Irvine, Warriors coach Mike Wilton said the exhibition matches are essential in helping the new guys cut their teeth.
"It's just an opportunity to give boys time to play in a real match," Wilton said. "Of course we've got a lot of guys hurt right now, (but playing the newcomers), that's still our intention of course."
And they performed admirably in the first match, with freshman outside hitter Steven Grgas springing for a match-high 12 kills in the Warriors' 30-25, 30-24, 30-25 sweep. Senior Lauri Hakala anchored the offense in a 30-28, 34-32, 30-23 win in the second match -- against the 49ers' primary unit -- with 16 kills on .433 hitting.
It was fitting that freshmen Matt Rawson and Ernie Vidinha got in on a double block for the match-winning point.
Warrior senior Brian Beckwith set the afternoon match for Hawaii, and sophomore Sean Carney handled assist duties for the nightcap. Their roles will be reversed in today's follow-up matches.
"I had a great time, it's fun playing with (the freshmen), getting them used to the arena and used to the atmosphere that we have here," Beckwith said. "You could tell there were a few first-game jitters for some of these guys, but they let it out and it's fun helping them through this process."
Newcomer support was key because of the departures of four UH seniors last year, not to mention injuries -- Dio Dante, Eric Kalima and freshman libero Cory Enriques were all unavailable.
So Wilton found himself going with improvised rotations against the 49ers.
"Some players are going to have to play a lot," he said. "We had hoped to run some kind of a rotation with three middles (freshman Matt Rawson, junior Kyle Klinger and Dante), but we can't now because we have to play them all the time," he explained.
Grgas, sophomore hitter Matias Brizuela and freshman libero Ric Cervantes also ended up seeing extensive play time.
Vidinha came up big for the Warriors in Game 2 of the night match, serving up an ace down the left side for the game-clinching point after being inserted only a few plays prior. Rawson tallied four aces for the match and had a match-high five blocks, while Carney added three aces.
"Without a doubt (I'm looking forward to playing with these guys)," Beckwith said. "Them playing (big) in that second game tonight, like Matt Rawson and Ernie Vidinha ... I like the enthusiasm we have on the court right now, everyone's eager to play and get better, especially these young guys. They have a hunger for this Hawaii volleyball out here."