RAINBOW WARRIOR VOLLEYBALL
Coaches hope OHI is final 4 preview
At least one of the tournament field makes it each year
What you see this week will not be what you see a few months from now. That's the hopes of the four men's volleyball coaches who hope to make improvements between this week and the first week of May ... improvements that will get their respective teams to the NCAA championship tournament at Ohio State.
But maybe it will be who you see in Columbus, Ohio, May 3 and 5. That's the hopes of all four teams in this week's 13th Outrigger Hotels Invitational.
History has shown that the potential is here.
What: 13th Outrigger Hotels Invitational
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
When: Tomorrow and Saturday
Schedule: Tomorrow, No. 2 BYU (6-0) vs. No. 9 Penn State (1-1), 4 p.m.; No. 13 Loyola-Chicago (3-1) at No. 3 Hawaii (2-2), 7 p.m. Saturday, BYU vs. Loyola-Chicago, 4 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Penn State, 7 p.m.
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: UH matches only, KKEA, 1420-AM
The Outrigger Hotels Invitational has often been a mini-preview of the final four held four months down the road. At least one participant every year has gone from the Stan Sheriff Center to the NCAA championship; three times, the OHI winner doubled up with the national title.
The inaugural tournament in 1995 featured three of the teams -- Hawaii, Penn State, UCLA -- that would end up in Springfield, Mass., vying for the NCAA championship. The following year, the trio reprised their roles in both the OHI and the final four in Los Angeles.
Although shortened by a day, this year's edition again features a powerhouse field. No. 2 Brigham Young (6-0) returns for its second appearance in three years; No. 9 Penn State (1-1) makes its annual trip; and No. 13 Loyola-Chicago (3-1) has its tournament debut.
Host and third-ranked Hawaii (2-2) is looking for its fifth title of this event and to repeat as tournament champion for just the second time since winning in 1996 and '97.
Warriors coach Mike Wilton had hoped to continue the tradition of a three-day tournament, but men's and women's basketball games prevented that from happening.
"I couldn't find three consecutive nights," Wilton said. "We've always been able to in the past, even if it was Wednesday-Thursday-Friday.
"We'll try to get lucky next year."
The two-day schedule means Hawaii and conference rival BYU will not meet. The Warriors travel to Provo for two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches against the Cougars on Feb. 23 and 24.
"We'll see them soon enough," Wilton said.
And maybe again in a few months.
A look at the four teams:
No. 2 Brigham Young (6-0)
To quote Wilton, the Cougars are "oozing with talent."
BYU is off to its most impressive start in school history in terms of percentage of games won, going 18-1 in six victories. In their 2001 title season in which they opened 10-0, the Cougars were 18-2 in games in their first six matches, the two game losses coming in a 3-2 win over Lewis.
BYU has defeated Cal Baptist, UCLA and Stanford all twice. The only game the Cougars dropped was the second night against Cal Baptist.
Leading BYU are junior hitter Ivan Perez (4.17 kpg, .484) and sophomore hitter Yosleyder Cala 3.89 kpg, .518). Running the offense is freshman Yamil Perez.
Co-interim head coaches Ryan Millar and Shawn Patchell are in their first season. Millar was a four-time All-American for the Cougars (1996-99) and the 1999 national player of the year. Patchell (1990-93) was a member of BYU's first NCAA title team in 1992 and led the nation in hitting as a junior that season (.488).
No. 3 Hawaii (2-2)
The Warriors are coming off two solid wins against Pacific as they continue to mix young and veteran talent.
Hawaii leads the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in blocking (3.54 bpg), led by the conference's top two blockers in senior Dio Dante (1.70 bpg) and freshman Matt Rawson (1.67 bpg).
Senior setter Brian Beckwith is No. 4 on the school assist chart with 3,509, trailing Albert Hannemann (4,195), Curt Vaughan (4,567) and leader Kimo Tuyay (4,591).
Leading the Warriors offensively are sophomore Jim Clar (4.00 kpg) and senior Lauri Hakala (3.54 kpg).
Hawaii is 24-11 in this event, with five titles, and is 12-0 against Penn State and 0-1 against BYU in OHI play. Overall, the Warriors lead the series with the Nittany Lions 12-2, trail in the series with the Cougars 21-15 and lead Loyola-Chicago 7-1.
Coach Mike Wilton is in his 15th year (285-121).
No. 9 Penn State (1-1)
The Beast of the East has dominated the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with 18 titles, going a remarkable 181-10 since 1972.
Last May, the Nittany Lions hosted the NCAA tournament at Rec Hall and advanced to the championship match for the fourth time ... all four against UCLA.
For the third time, Penn State was the runner-up.
The Nittany Lions lost four all-conference players to graduation, including setter Dan O'Dell and All-American Matt Proper. Leading this year's team are senior hitter Alex Gutor and sophomore hitter Matt Anderson. Junior setter Luke Murray is running the offense.
After a sweep of host Ball State to open the season, the Nittany Lions were swept by No. 7 IPFW the following night.
Penn State is one of two teams that have a series edge over BYU in Smith Fieldhouse (3-1) and holds a 6-5 lead in the overall series. The Cougars have won five of the last seven meetings with the Nittany Lions.
Coach Mark Pavlik is in his 13th season (288-93). The Nittany Lions are 8-27 in this event.
No. 13 Loyola Chicago (3-1)
The Ramblers opened with two non-conference wins, then split last week in Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association play, sweeping Mercyhurst and losing in five to No. 7 IPFW.
Loyola is young, starting two freshmen and a sophomore. Junior hitter Ian Anderson, the reigning MIVA player of the week, is averaging 5.08 kpg and hitting .430. He had 37 career kills coming into the year and has 87 coming into the week.
Senior setter Brian Guntli leads the MIVA with 197 assists. He is second on the school's career-assist list with 4,041 and trails only current coach Shane Davis (5,337), who played for the Ramblers from 2000 to 2003.
Loyola trails in the series with Hawaii 7-1. The Ramblers' only win came in the season opener for both schools in 2002, Davis' junior year.
Davis, the MIVA coach of the year the past two seasons, is in his fourth season (72-19).