Hawaii, Pacific playing for pride


POSTED: Thursday, April 09, 2009

They mirror the economy as well as each other. Both Hawaii and Pacific can only hope this recession ends soon.




PACIFIC (3-24, 0-18 MPSF) AT NO. 14 HAWAII (6-17, 3-15)

        When: 7 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday

Radio: KKEA 1420-AM


TV: KFVE, Ch. 5




Tomorrow would be a good start for the two struggling men's volleyball programs.

The No. 14 Warriors (6-17, 3-15) and Tigers (3-24, 0-18) see this week's series as a chance for immediate gratification as well as a future prosperity. Out of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoff picture, the two are dealing with different pressures—UOP to win its first league match and Hawaii to avoid becoming the Tigers' first victim.

“;If Pacific beats us, then it means we are the worst team in the league,”; Warriors sophomore setter Nejc Zemljak said. “;No one wants that to happen. There's pride involved.

“;I think we're better than a lot of teams, but you can't say it because we didn't win. We had everything to gain at UCLA (last week) and didn't make it happen. I haven't won in a long time. ... I'm hungry for some wins.”;

Hawaii's MPSF losing streak is at six, including last week's two road losses against the Bruins. The Warriors had chances to win both, but—as has been the trend this season—couldn't close at the end, losing in five Thursday and four Friday.

The Tigers, on the road for a second consecutive week, dropped a five-setter at Long Beach State on Saturday. UOP had a 2-1 lead, only to lose the last two sets.

“;We're capable of playing well,”; said Tigers coach Joe Wortmann, his team 1-21 last year. “;At the end with Long Beach we got tentative, and they made some counters. There were times we had five freshmen out there.

“;The reality is we're building for the future. Hopefully we're mirroring the economy. We're in a bit of a recession and hopefully it will turn around.”;

It's the same feeling on the Warriors' side of the net.

“;Morale-wise, the season has been tough, but we're still getting to play volleyball,”; UH sophomore opposite Brennon Dyer said. “;Right now we're out here practicing for next year, getting our chemistry better.

“;The pressure (of making the playoffs) is off and hopefully we can play to enjoy the game. You play to get better every day.”;

“;Even though we're out of the playoff, we're still athletes and still competitive,”; Warriors senior libero Mike China said. “;We're ahead of UOP (in the standings) and we want to keep it that way.”;

The teams saw each other during the preseason at the Thunderball Tournament hosted by British Columbia, splitting their five-set matches. Pacific won the second meeting, the bronze-medal match.

“;They won the one that counted,”; Warriors coach Mike Wilton said. “;They're way different from the fall. They even have one of our guys. And he was a good guy.”;

Freshman setter Eric Fuchino, who redshirted at Hawaii last season, has started 10 matches for the Tigers. Fuchino was one of 10 UH players cut in the fall due to a mandate from the athletic department concerning gender equity numbers.