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Stanford well-stocked with Hawaii products


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POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Home has been where the wins have come. Hawaii just needs to remember that.

The Warriors volleyball team hasn't played in the Stan Sheriff Center since the final two nights of January. Four weeks ago, Hawaii came away with two huge victories, defeating then-No. 2 Cal State Northridge.

               

     

 

WARRIORS VOLLEYBALL
        No. 7 Stanford (9-7, 5-6 MPSF) at No. 13 Hawaii (3-8, 2-6), 7 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. TV: KFVE (Ch. 5). Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

 

       

The Matadors haven't lost since ... and the Warriors haven't won, dropping their only two matches in February—thus far—on the road at Long Beach State.

No. 13 Hawaii (3-8, 2-6 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) would like nothing better to do than close out this month the same as last month. Standing in the way is No. 7 Stanford (9-7, 5-6) or, as many call it, UH-Northern California.

The Cardinal feature six former island prep standouts, including four starters who played key roles in last Saturday's 3-2 win at UC Santa Barbara. Junior setter Kawika Shoji ('Iolani '06) served four straight points at the end of Set 5; sophomore hitter Spencer McLachlin (Punahou '07) and freshman middle Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08) each had 22 kills; and freshman libero Erik Shoji (Punahou '08) had 20 digs.

“;They're all solid players, some of the best from the close-knit volleyball family here,”; Hawaii senior setter Sean Carney ('Iolani '04) said. “;We're playing a team that has beaten the current No. 1 team in the nation (Pepperdine).

“;We're just glad to be back home and playing again. Yes, the wins (over Cal State Northridge) were an accomplishment, but it's not like we're on a winning streak. We lost two (at Long Beach State) two weeks ago and we've got to get it started again.”;

The Warriors will have to do it without their kill leader, freshman outside hitter Steven Hunt (3.79 kps) who broke his hand during the loss to the 49ers on Feb. 13. That position has been somewhat of a revolving door as Hawaii looks for consistency.

Warriors coach Mike Wilton said that, with Hunt out for perhaps a month, the starting spot is up for grabs. The battle is between sophomore Joshua Walker and junior transfer Joseph Strotman.

Last week's bye week has given the team a chance to work on different combinations. However, the Warriors are ready to beat up on someone other than each other.

“;We haven't played at home in so long,”; freshman hitter Gus Tuaniga said. “;We want to get back into the rhythm of being on our home court.

“;We're a little down because we felt we were the better team (against Long Beach State). We didn't play well. It's time to grow up.”;

And start winning. Despite their 2-6 conference record, the Warriors are by no means out of contention for a playoff spot.

Hawaii is in ninth in the 12-team league; the top eight advance to the playoffs. Three games currently separate No. 3 (Cal State Northridge and USC both 7-2) from No. 8 (UCLA, 4-5).

“;There's a lot of the season left,”; Carney said. “;We still have an opportunity to move up. I'm confident we'll make the playoffs.

“;We can't look back. We felt we could have won both at Long Beach, but all we can do is build and move on. There are no issues with the effort we're giving, but it's time to win. Winning would mean a lot to us mentally.”;