Rare sweep proves sweet for struggling Warriors


POSTED: Saturday, March 21, 2009

Maybe spring will be a springboard.

Winter sure hasn't been kind.

But at this point, all that matters is a win. No. 13 Hawaii did just that last night, starting off spring break weekend with a sweep of New Jersey Tech. Joshua Walker put down a team-high 11 kills over two sets and the Warriors handed the Highlanders their 14th consecutive loss, 30-19, 30-22, 30-20.

As good as the 103-minute sweep felt for the Warriors (5-13), the highlight for them and the 2,296 in the Stan Sheriff Center was watching UH's 5-foot-6 junior libero Justin Ching put down three kills—including aloha ball—in his first appearance of the season.

“;It was so much fun,”; said Ching, whose vertical is 40-plus inches. “;I thought I was just going to go in and serve for Sean (Carney) and Coach told me to stay in the front row.

“;I wasn't expecting that, but I know I can block. I was an outside hitter in high school (Maryknoll). I just wanted to crush aloha ball.”;

It also added to the deflating of New Jersey Tech (3-15), which has been swept in 10 of its last 11 matches.

“;I'm thinking if a 5-6 guy can hit around the block ... come on, I've got guys who are 6-3, 6-4, and they should be able to do it,”; Highlanders coach Ryan McNeil said. “;We just don't have the firepower to finish off a match.

“;We have a young squad (five freshmen out of 11 players) and it's hard. Men's volleyball is an offensive game and if you don't have an offense ... “;

Tech did get 11 kills from Amobi Armstrong, who came back from a tweaked ankle in Set 2, and 10 from Kahuku High graduate Charles Bell.

“;It was a privilege to come here and play Hawaii,”; Bell, a junior hitter, said. “;And it was great to see Justin out there—he played for my club (ASICS).

“;Tomorrow night, we need some consistency. We need to pick it up.”;

The teams meet again tonight at 7.

The Warriors also want to find consistency as they prepare for the last eight league matches of the season. The tryout for an opposite continued last night with Joe Strotman giving way to Brennon Dyer in Set 2; Dyer finished with 10 kills, hitting .444., with five kills in Set 2 helping Hawaii to just its third 3-0 lead of the season.

Hawaii outblocked the undersized Highlanders 11-2. Steven Grgas, moving back to middle, was in on six to go along with eight kills. Serving was still a problem for the Warriors, who had 16 service errors.

“;We've got to keep doing the small things and play off what we did tonight the rest of the way,”; Grgas said. “;This was a good team to try different things against while at the same time build our confidence.”;



Some two dozen Hawaii Army National Guard members re-upped during the break between Sets 2 and 3. Administering the oath of extension was Ret. Col. John Pennebacker, a member of Hawaii's Fabulous Five basketball team of the early 1970s.


Hawaii def. NJIT

30-19, 30-22, 30-20

Highlanders (3-15)
Warriors (5-13)

Key—g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills + blocks + aces)
Aces—Hawaii(5): Grgas 2, Zemljak, Strotman, Clar. Assists—NJIT (28): Correa 26, Thomas, Gustafson. Hawaii (52): Zemljak 46, Carney 5, China.
T—1:43. Officials—Dan Hironaka, Ernest Ho. A—2,296.


MPSF Standings

Pepperdine122.857 14-2
UC Irvine122.857 17-3
CSU Northridge123.800 1/218-3
USC95.643 313-6
BYU85.615 3 1/212-8
Stanford76.538 4 1/214-7
Long Beach State77.500 510-9
UC San Diego69.400 6 1/28-11
UCLA59.357 710-10
Hawaii311.214 95-13
UC Santa Barbara312.200 9 1/26-13
Pacific013.000 12 1/23-19

Hawaii def. NJIT 30-19, 30-22, 30-20
BYU def. Long Beach State, 30-22, 25-30, 30-28, 28-30, 15-7
Cal Baptist def. Pacific, 30-20, 30-26, 31-33, 30-277
New Jersey Tech at Hawaii, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center
Long Beach State at BYU
Hope International at CSU Northridge
Cal Baptist at Stanford