RAINBOW WARRIOR VOLLEYBALL
Rejuvenated Warriors prep for road, Cougars
The pretty good, the obvious bad and the what-could-be ugly.
It's what the Hawaii men's volleyball team was looking at when returning to practice yesterday morning.
The Warriors, who remained No. 12 in yesterday's coaches poll, finally ended their losing streak by downing Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe USC last Friday in four. The victory not only avoided what would have been a school-record eighth consecutive defeat but also a sixth straight home loss that would have tied a record set in 1984.
The obvious bad is that Hawaii (3-9, 3-7 MPSF) leaves tonight for two matches at one of the toughest places to win: Brigham Young's Smith Fieldhouse. The Warriors are 3-11 in Provo, including three MPSF tournament losses.
As for the what-could-be ugly, Hawaii will face an angry BYU team, which has lost its last four matches as well as dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the rankings. In the span of nine days, the Cougars (9-4, 5-3) lost in five to UC Irvine at Smith and dropped three on the road, first a sweep at Cal Baptist then twice at new-No. 1 Pepperdine.
"I'm kind of shocked that they've lost four in a row," UH associate head coach Tino Reyes said. "After seeing how good they were down here (winning last month's Outrigger Hotels Invitational). They're the most talented team in the league.
"Losing at Pepperdine is not shocking, but losing four in a row is."
The Warriors know about that losing feeling all too well.
"It would have been really hard, really sad, if we had lost another one," UH senior middle Dio Dante said. "But BYU? I say, whatever, bring it on.
"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and playing a caliber team like that, whatever does happen, will be a good experience."
While the Warriors were without senior setter Brian Beckwith, who was not feeling well, they had senior hitter Lauri Hakala back taking swings. Hakala has missed the past three matches with a strained abdominal muscle.
"But I liked that we never stopped playing, never gave up," said Hakala, who expects to make the trip to BYU. "BYU is good, they're more athletic. A team that is mad after losing is very dangerous. You never know what you'll get. But it's more important that we focus on our side of the net."