Warriors win 1 for Coach Wilton


POSTED: Sunday, April 12, 2009

It was not the way Mike Wilton had intended to announce that he was stepping down as the Hawaii men's volleyball coach. He had planned to do it after this season—his 17th with the Warriors—was done.

But word began to spread through the athletic department that it was happening this month and Wilton wanted to tell his players first. He did it after the video session to prepare for last night's match with Pacific.

“;We had a feeling that it was going to happen, but when he said it, I had tears,”; freshman hitter Gus Tuaniga said. “;It's sad, but we're going to keep working hard this next week, work our butts off for our seniors and Coach.”;

No. 14 Hawaii concludes the season with USC at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday and Saturday.

“;I play every game like it's the last, and this will be our last,”; Warriors senior setter Sean Carney said. “;We're going to fight and do our best.

“;I'd keep playing all summer long if teams kept coming in, but we have only the two with SC and we want to win those.”;

The Warriors (8-17, 5-15 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) head into their last week on a two-match winning streak. Last night, Hawaii took an MPSF series for just the second time this season by sweeping Pacific 30-20, 31-29, 30-28 in 106 minutes.

Joe Strotman tied his career high set on Friday with 13 kills and Steven Hunt added 12 in playing two sets. Joshua Walker came off the bench in Set 3 to secure the win, putting down 10 kills with no errors to hit .588.

“;We wanted to win for him tonight,”; Walker said of Wilton. “;After he told us, we didn't have time to focus on it.

“;Now we'll get ready this week to give him two more victories. He's had a great career and everyone knows that.”;

Last night was career victory No. 315 for Wilton, who was hired in 1993. As has happened on many nights, it wasn't easy.

Hawaii had to hold off late charges by UOP (3-26, 0-20) in Sets 2 and 3. In the second, the Warriors had two set points, only to have the Tigers tie it for the 20th time at 29.

A kill by Tuaniga gave Hawaii its third set point and Strotman and Grgas combined to block Kevin Pratte to send the Warriors into the locker room up 2-0.

Set 3 was equally tight, with 16 ties and seven lead changes. The Warriors made four position changes, the biggest when Walker came in for Hunt.

Pacific continued to have trouble when Grgas was serving, and it was during his 4-0 stint on the backline that Hawaii took the lead for good at 28-26.

The Tigers held off one match point to pull to 29-28, but Strotman and Jarrod Lofy stuffed Nicolaas Schenk to end it.

Pratte led the Tigers with 17 kills.

UOP coach Joe Wortmann said he had learned that Wilton would be stepping down prior to the match.

“;He's been a good friend and a really good guy for the game,”; Wortmann said. “;He's always been about fairness and justice, and has really elevated the game.

“;I said to Strotman afterwards, 'You were getting tired at the end.' He said yes, but that he was fighting to win. That's been indicative of Mike's teams.”;



Hawaii's senior night on Saturday will honor Mike China, Jim Clar and Carney. ... Athletic director Jim Donovan said he anticipated a lot of interest in the vacancy and hoped that associate coach Tino Reyes and assistant Mason Kuo would apply.


Hawaii def. Pacific

30-24, 25-30, 30-26, 30-25















































































































































































Tigers (3-25, 0-19)



Warriors (7-17, 4-15)

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—Pacific(2): Daley, Fuchino. Hawaii (5): Carney 3, Grgas 2. Assists—Pacific (36): Fuchino 32, Pratte, Bauhs, Schenk, Hindsley. Hawaii (51): Carney 33, Zemljak 13, Strotman 3, Tuaniga, Cervantes.
T—1:46. Officials—Dickson Chun, Dan Hironaka. A—N/A.


MPSF standings

x-Pepperdine173.850 19-3
x-UC Irvine173.850 22-4
x-CSU Northridge156.714 2 1/222-6
x-Stanford137.650 420-9
x-BYU128.600 516-11
x-USC128.600 516-9
Long Beach State1011.476 7 1/213-13
UCLA911.450 813-14
UC San Diego813.381 9 1/212-14
Hawaii515.250 128-17
UC Santa Barbara417.190 13 1/28-18
Pacific020.000 173-26

x-clinched MPSF playoff spot

Hawaii def. Pacific 30-20, 31-29, 30-28
UC Irvine def. Pepperdine 31-29, 30-24, 30-22
Stanford def BYU 30-24, 30-19, 30-19
Long Beach State def. CSU Northridge 34-32, 30-25, 23-30, 30-25
UC San Diego def. UC Santa Barbara 30-26, 21-30, 20-30, 30-21, 15-13