RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii left-side hitter Jim Clar, right, teamed with fellow Warrior Kealii Frank on this block attempt against Ball State last weekend.
Injury may limit UH’s Clar
STORY SUMMARY »
There's no life blueprint at the moment. Jim Clar isn't planning any farther ahead than tonight's volleyball match against No. 6 Long Beach State.
No. 6 Long Beach State (2-0) at No. 12 Hawaii (1-2)
When: Today and tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE Ch. 5
Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
"I've always dealt with things as they come," the junior left-side hitter said. "I don't get too worried about the future. I've always planned on everything just happening."
Things have begun to happen for Clar, who has started all three matches for the 12th-ranked Warriors (1-2), leading them in kills each night. But a strained abdominal muscle has limited his practice time this week and it's uncertain how much he'll play against the 49ers (2-0).
"I'll give it my best if I'm in there," Clar said. "I'm really excited about our team. Sure we don't have any 'name' players like last year, but I have to say that the chemistry is the best I've experienced since my redshirt year (2005).
"We're playing a game we all love and we're having fun."
FULL STORY »
Jim Clar has a few addictions.
Poke. Spam musubi. Volleyball.
It's an odd combination, considering that Clar was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., hardly a hotbed of any of his three favorites. But it's a combination that has somehow worked out so right for the junior left-side hitter on the Hawaii men's volleyball team.
The 6-foot-2 Clar may be undersized for his position at the college level, but he has made up for it with explosiveness, desire ... and the ability to touch 11-4. He's led the 12th-ranked Warriors in kills in all three of their matches, averaging 4.23 kpg, and had a career-high 23 in last Saturday's five-game loss to UCLA.
"That was a winnable match," Clar said of the contest with the Bruins. "But it might be better that we did lose so we don't get too cocky.
"It was a reality check. We know we have a lot of work to do the rest of the season."
The on-the-job training for the young Warriors continues tonight when Hawaii hosts No. 6 Long Beach State in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both teams. Clar, who has been limited in practice by a pulled abdominal muscle this week, isn't sure if he'll make his fourth straight start of the season or not.
It's much like the uncertainty Clar faced last season when he moved from the left side to the right side then back to the left. With senior Jake Schkud playing well at opposite on the right this year, Clar has been happy to work on getting better at the position he played in high school.
Now the challenge is working on his passing, something that can be shaky for the former U.S. junior national team libero.
"If he can improve his passing, he could be a very nice player," said Warrior associate coach Tino Reyes, who recruited Clar. "He's very dynamic, which is why we looked at him. Moving him to the left ... you want your best hitters out there, and he is that right now.
"Off the court, he is a great kid, good student, humble, and works hard."
That Hawaii recruited him came as a surprise to Clar, who was looking at playing closer to home at Penn State.
"I was just playing because I enjoyed the game," he said. "That fact alone is what got me here.
"It wasn't a hard decision. I liked everything about it -- the volleyball environment, the fans, the people who are so welcoming and generous. It did take a while to adjust to the climate, not having snow, but it wasn't a hard transition."
It was a hard transition in the classroom, where he's changed majors four times. Clar's gone from engineering to kinesiology and leisure science to business before settling on sociology.
"I've found something I enjoy," he said. "I'm not sure what I'll do after volleyball, maybe even go back to engineering. My dad is a mechanical designer, my sister's a structural engineer.
"I've been told I'm too small to play internationally, but that's what they said about me playing outside hitter."
His teammates don't doubt his ability.
"He was thrown around in a lot of positions and handled it, which shows how tough he is," said junior setter Sean Carney, who redshirted in 2005 with Clar. "What I think he's improved the most is his approach to the game. He's not timid now, knows he can play at this level.
"He's matured into the player we need him to be."
"I've seen him mature into a dominant player," Schkud added. "He's really stepped up his game. His passing's better and is showing that he can compete with the best players in the country."
What Clar is particularly enjoying this season is the chemistry of the team. It's the best, he said, since his redshirt season.
"No one's worried about who gets the most kills, who will be 'The Guy' out there," he said. "We lost a few big names from last year, but I really have high hopes for this team.
"Coach is shuffling players around, looking for the best combinations. Whatever coach asks of us, we're going to do and do our best."
Clar said he isn't often recognized off-campus, and many times has been mistaken for Carney. There is a little more attention when he is with his girlfriend, Rainbow Wahine right-side hitter Amber Kaufman.
"It's really impressive watching her," Clar said. "She can really jump. Thank God, I have the better vertical."