Hawaii back from break and off to The Beach


POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The quirky Mountain Pacific Sports Federation has given Hawaii nearly two weeks off between volleyball matches. Time to recuperate from nagging injuries and the flu, time for the redundancy of serving and passing drills, time for the continued maturation of a fairly young team.




        No. 10 Hawaii (3-6, 2-4 MPSF) at No. 7 Long Beach State (5-5, 4-3), 5 p.m. (Hawaii time) tomorrow and Friday



But the break also put on hold any momentum gained from two big wins over then-No. 2 Cal State Northridge.

The 10th-ranked Warriors 3-5, 2-4 MPSF) will find out quickly whether the good outweighs the bad from the time off when they head to No. 7 Long Beach State (5-5, 4-3) for matches tomorrow and Friday.

“;I think the break has made us more anxious to play,”; Hawaii junior libero Ric Cervantes said. “;It was good because we had a lot of sickness and injuries. We've been able to work on things. Our serving (efficiency) has gone up and we're making good strides on offense and defense.

“;What we showed against Northridge is that we can play with the best of them. But we have to take care of our side of the net. That's what it comes down to. If we don't, then we're going to lose.”;

Hawaii faces a Long Beach team that will be getting reacquainted with its home fans. The 49ers haven't played in the Walter Pyramid since losing to UC Irvine on Jan. 23.

The Beach has gone 2-2 on the road, including being swept at Northridge and sweeping UC Santa Barbara last week.

“;We've watched video on them and I have friends at both Santa Barbara and Northridge,”; UH sophomore hitter Brennon Dyer said. “;I know that they're fast on defense, their (sets to the) pins are high balls and they have a big middle (6-foot-7 Dan Alexander).”;

Alexander, one of six returning starters, averages 2.65 kills and 1.48 blocks per set. Running the offense is sophomore setter Mike Klipsch, who leads the nation in assists (13.67), while junior opposite Dean Bittner is No. 1 in kill average (5.56 kps).

Senior libero Dustin Watten anchors the defense. He is second in the country in digs (3.71 dps).

The majority of Hawaii's 13-player travel roster has never played in the Pyramid. Senior defensive specialist Mike China did in 2005, when he played for Lewis.

“;It is different,”; he said of the 4,200-seat arena.

“;One of the advantages we have is we're used to playing in a big arena,”; senior hitter Jim Clar said. “;That helps us.

“;The odd thing is that it's so huge, but there's not that much seating. The last time we went there, there was only 400 people and 200 were our fans.”;

In three home dates, the 49ers have averaged 813.

Hawaii, averaging 2,502 over seven home matches, won't be back in the Stan Sheriff Center again until Feb. 26 when it hosts Stanford. The Warriors have another bye week next week.

“;We have young guys and the more gym time the better,”; Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. “;Besides there's nothing we can do about it (the schedule).”;



Clar could see more playing time this week. Sidelined with a (hitting) shoulder injury, he said he's been pain-free when serving and taking swings. ... Junior outside hitter Joseph Strotman is making his first road trip based on his performance against CSUN, Wilton said.