Warriors not passing on chance for upset
If this were a multiple-choice test, the Hawaii volleyball team would ace it.
"What do the Warriors need to do to be in a position to win?"
a. Pass efficiently.
b. Pass consistently.
c. All of the above.
Who: No. 1 Pepperdine (15-1, 12-1) at No. 14 Hawaii (3-12, 3-10)
When: Today, 3 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center.
TV: KFVE (Channel 5), live
Radio: 1420 AM, live
Series: Pepperdine leads 33-21
"That's all we needed (Thursday)," Warriors senior blocker Dio Dante said, referring to being swept by top-ranked Pepperdine Thursday. "They're a good team, but if we can pass better, make the job easier for Brian (setter Beckwith), which will make our job easier, too, we'll be running an offense.
"(Thursday) we were just doing what we could, throwing the ball up to whoever. Once you're not passing well, it's hard to say what else your doing bad because it all comes back to that pass."
It was the main focus of practice for both teams yesterday as they prepared for today's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rematch at 3 p.m. With a victory, Pepperdine (15-1, 12-1 MPSF) can tie the school record for consecutive victories (13), set during its 2006 NCAA championship season.
The Waves hit .356 in downing the Warriors 30-28, 30-18, 30-28 Thursday, with Hawaii's nine blocks accounting for more than half of Pepperdine's 14 hitting errors. Four Pepperdine attackers had eight kills or more in a spread-out offense.
"I thought we played OK," Waves coach Marv Dunphy said. "Today, we got done what we wanted to get done, which was work on serving and receiving.
"I know UH will play better on Saturday. We have to be ready."
And so do the Warriors (3-12, 3-10), who are trying to move into playoff-berth contention. The top eight teams advance to the postseason tournament; Hawaii is in 10th and two games behind eighth-place USC.
The Warriors again are expected to tweak their lineup. The question marks are at one of the left-side hitting spots and at libero.
Freshman Matt Vanzant has nailed down a left-side spot, but the other has become a revolving door. The leading candidates are sophomore Jim Clar -- who played opposite most of the season -- and junior Jake Schkud, a converted middle. Both are effective hitters, but the edge will go to whoever can pass the best.
Sophomore Mark Ribeiro and freshman Ernie Vidinha have also been on the left.
Senior libero Eric Kalima played well Thursday in the first two games, with all seven digs coming in Game 1. Freshman Ric Cervantes finished out the match, passing all 16 of his serve-receive opportunities and Warriors coach Mike Wilton said he'd use yesterday's practice to determine a starter.
"It is said that necessity is the mother of invention," Wilton said.
One thing that is pau is the experiment of senior Lauri Hakala on the left. The All-American made an impressive return to opposite Thursday, with match highs of 18 kills and 11 digs, with four block assists.
"It was a little awkward out there," Hakala said. "If the passing is good, then the opposite can be very good."
If not, then the Warriors are in trouble. Their quick offense is predicated on solid passing; Beckwith is putting in a lot of legwork just to get to balls.
"Clearly the key is passing," Wilton said. "We got way down (in Game 3), but we started passing and here we come again.
"One of the things I love about this team is there is no quit in them. The air went out of the balloon in Game 2. We lost our ball-control and it made it difficult for us to score. Pepperdine was in system most of the time. We're not there yet."