Getting their points across


POSTED: Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blocks earn cheers. Defense earns wins.




NO. 7 STANFORD (10-7, 6-6 MPSF AT NO. 11 HAWAII (3-9, 2-7)

        When: 7 tonight

TV: KFVE, Ch. 5


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM




But for defense to play that crucial role in a volleyball match, hitters have to convert digs into points. A missed opportunity here and there adds up and, in the case of Hawaii on Thursday night, it probably cost the Warriors a victory against Stanford.

“;We need to stay disciplined in our efforts,”; Hawaii junior libero Ric Cervantes said before yesterday's practice in Gym I. “;Last night, we'd get a good dig and then didn't convert. We need to start converting defensive points.

“;I think we took a lot away from last night. We had them and then didn't stay disciplined. It was a couple points, but it was the difference.”;

Cervantes did his part, finishing with a match-high 16 digs, including several impressive soccer-kick digs—“;The most I've ever kicked in a volleyball game,”; he said.

But Stanford won the dig battle 48-42 in the contest decided by nine points, 30-28, 30-26, 30-27. Cardinal freshman libero Erik Shoji had 12 digs, and his brother, junior setter Kawika, added 10.

“;I thought both teams played good defense and both liberos played well,”; Stanford coach John Kosty said. “;I think both teams will play even better tomorrow. It's going to be a good match and I'm looking forward to it.

“;We had a good practice today, worked on our attacking, which needs to get better. And blocking ... we're a good blocking team, we just didn't show it.”;

The Cardinal got outblocked 15.5-5.5 but still swept the Warriors.

“;Blocking is a way to score points, a way to get momentum,”; Kosty said. “;It's not as big a factor as digging.”;

For the Warriors, yesterday's concentration was on passing and continuing to get sophomore Nejc Zemljak comfortable in his new starting setter role. Wilton said the revamped lineup for tonight's rematch with Stanford would keep Zemljak at setter and have former starting setter Sean Carney on the outside.

Freshman hitter Gus Tuaniga is also expected to be back in the starting lineup.

The downside of changing setters for Hawaii was the drop-off in offense from the middle. Jarrod Lofy put down seven kills with no errors in 11 swings, with Steven Grgas—who didn't have an attempt until Set 2—finishing with two kills on eight swings.

“;Considering we've only been practicing (with Zemljak) for about a week and a half, I thought it was good,”; Lofy said. “;For our first game together, it was good, but it can be a lot better.

“;Looking back on last night, we weren't putting away the big points. It was the little things here and there—hitting balls out by inches, missing serves—that ended up biting us in the butt.”;

Kawika Shoji said he was impressed with the opposition.

“;Hawaii's always tough at home,”; the 2006 'Iolani graduate said. “;We knew they were changing the lineup and we had to be prepared for anything.

“;What surprised me the most was their tough serving right off the bat. We had to weather the storm and stay consistent.”;

Barring Hawaii hosting Stanford in a playoff match this year or next, this will be Shoji's last match at the Sheriff Center. Next year, the Cardinal hosts the Warriors in the alternating home-and-away series.

“;I'm cherishing every moment and enjoying it while I can,”; he said.