CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii libero Ric Cervantes, left, and Jim Clar, right, were the stars of Wednesday's sweep of Loyola-Chicago.
Warriors try to build momentum
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Tonight will be the measuring stick for the Hawaii men's volleyball team.
Loyola-Chicago (10-7) at Hawaii (7-9); 7 p.m. today, Stan Sheriff Center; TV: KFVE, Ch. 5; Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Can the Warriors take down No. 12 Loyola-Chicago a second time? Hawaii (7-9) has only taken a two-match series from UC San Diego and Pacific, the two bottom teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
While another sweep would be nice -- the Warriors earned their first straight-set victory when downing the Ramblers on Wednesday -- a second win over Loyola would give Hawaii confidence and momentum heading into the second half of the season. The Warriors are hanging out in ninth place in the MPSF; only the top eight teams make the playoffs.
There's no secret what the keys are tonight ... for both teams. Serving and passing are the basics, but they're also the bases for building success. The Warriors' aggressive serving Wednesday helped take the Ramblers out of their rhythm and Hawaii's block did some damage, stuffing Loyola 15 times, leading to a .025 hitting percentage.
"I think we all know that if we don't come out mentally prepared, we're going to lose," said Hawaii libero Ric Cervantes, who had 13 digs and was perfect on 18 serve-receives. "If we can keep the consistency going, we'll be fine."
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's Sean Carney had 35 assists and four block assists against Loyola-Chicago.
The equation is pretty simple.
Serving plus siding out plus stringing together points equals success.
That new math worked well for the Hawaii men's volleyball team Wednesday night when it swept No. 12 Loyola-Chicago. The trick will be to do it again tonight when hosting the Ramblers at the Stan Sheriff Center at 7.
The longest winning streak this season for the Warriors (7-9) is two, both coming against the bottom two teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Matching that with another victory over Loyola (10-7) would be a huge boost for the Warriors as they head into the second half of conference play.
On Wednesday, Hawaii came out with energy that had been lacking most of the season. It was partially fueled by the embarrassment felt after being swept last Thursday at Stanford.
"After getting destroyed on the road by Stanford, Loyola came in and felt our wrath," Warriors senior opposite Jake Schkud said yesterday. "It was a big win for us. We played well against a ranked team. We had composure and finished it out for once.
"We started 9-1 (in Game 1) and it was a long night for them, a short night for us. A sweep is what we're always striving for. We finished it, didn't let them come back on us."
Wednesday's was the first straight-set victory of the season for Hawaii. The Ramblers did challenge in the 20s in Games 2 and 3, but the Warriors snuffed out potential rallies, thanks in part to 15 blocks.
Hawaii also sided-out close to the 70 percent coach Mike Wilton prefers. The Warriors have been in the 50s most of their matches.
"We've been giving up runs of points and (Wednesday) we stopped them from going on runs," said Hawaii libero Ric Cervantes, who had a match-high 13 digs and was perfect on his 18 serve-receives. "We did a good job of not compounding an error by making another error, giving up two, three points instead of just one. The main thing is we have to be focused and stay focused.
"Loyola's a good team, they didn't show well (Wednesday) and we know how they feel. It's the same way we felt after Stanford. It's a lousy feeling."
Hawaii didn't hit particularly well Wednesday -- .231 -- but Loyola was even less effective (.025). The Warriors' aggressive serving made life miserable for Ramblers freshman setter Mike Hutz, in turn making the offense fairly predictable.
Senior opposite Ian Anderson had the most success for Loyola, putting down 16 kills, but he hit just .174, the highest percentage on the team. Only junior hitter Joe Guntli had more than two kills, finishing with nine.
Conversely, all but one of Hawaii's attackers hit .241 or better. Junior hitter Jim Clar had a match-high 17 kills, finding a lot of success when attacking from behind the 3-meter line on "pipe" sets.
Schkud, who turned 23 yesterday, added 12 kills and was in on five blocks.
Wilton said he was most pleased with his team's serving and defense. As Loyola coach Shane Davis said after Wednesday's match, "We couldn't buy a kill the way they played defense."
Hawaii wasn't at 100 percent for yesterday's practice. Sophomore middle Matt Rawson wasn't involved in hitting drills as he rested an aching shoulder.
Freshman hitter Joshua Walker, second on the team in kill average (3.55 per game), continues to improve after flu-like symptoms limited his practice time earlier this week. He made a brief appearance Wednesday night in Game 3 with one kill and two errors in six swings (minus-.167).