Warriors send Wilton out a winner


POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

The ghosts of seasons past returned last night, from Manny Realtor, a member of Hawaii's first team in 1959, to last year's team captain and lone senior Jake Schkud, who played professionally in Austria a week ago.

There were several reminders of the glory years of 1995-96, with former All-America hitter Aaron Wilton in the stands and Alan “;The Rubberman”; Hackbarth performing on the floor.

Gov. Linda Lingle even proclaimed yesterday “;UH men's volleyball day”; in Hawaii, in part to honor retiring Warriors coach Mike Wilton.

Thanks to the ghosts of seasons future—junior Joe Strotman and sophomore Joshua Walker—the Warriors turned it into UH men's volleyball night as well. Strotman had a career-high 30 kills and Walker added 29 as No. 14 Hawaii upset No. 5 USC 30-32, 33-31, 38-36, 30-27 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Although the Warriors (9-18, 6-17) will miss the postseason for the second straight year, they spoiled that of the Trojans (17-10, 13-9). A win last night would have had USC hosting Stanford in an MPSF quarterfinal. Instead, the Trojans will spend the fourth straight week on the road, traveling to play the Cardinal. Saturday. USC had four players in double-figure kills, led by Tony Ciarelli's 23 and 21 by Murphy Troy.

Hawaii's three seniors had promised to leave everything out on the court in the final match of their career and they did not disappoint after nearly 3 hours of play. The trio left the arena buried in leis after solid outings.

» Setter Sean Carney, who led 'Iolani to the 2003 state title as a senior at the Sheriff Center, had a career-best 70 assists and 10 digs.

» Libero Mike China (Punahou '04), who started his playing career at Lewis, finished it with a career-high 13 digs.

» And outside hitter Jim Clar, battling shoulder injuries the past two seasons, had eight kills and was in on three of the team's nine blocks.

The combination of Schkud's surprise appearance and senior adrenaline worked its magic early with Hawaii leading by as many as five late (20-15). USC rallied behind Austin Zahn and Troy, taking the first of three set points.

Kills by Walker and Strotman held off the Trojans twice, but the third time was a charm, with SC finally ending it on an ace by Hunter Current.

The Warriors returned the favor, winning one they probably shouldn't have. The Trojans were poised to take a 2-0 lead, jumping ahead at 27-23 and 29-27.

Hawaii survived two USC set points, taking two of their own behind Strotman's hot hand. As happened in Set 1, it ended on the third attempt, with the Trojans committing two errors to give the Warriors the win and even the match.

Walker and Strotman combined for 17 kills in Set 3 to give Hawaii an emotional victory. The Warriors fended off two set points, needing six of their own, with Walker putting down his 21st kill to finish it when lobbing one to the back corner that went through the hands of SC libero Luke Morris.

Despite falling behind early, Hawaii battled back to tie it at 16.

An ace by Gus Tuaniga capped a 5-0 run that gave the Warriors the lead for good at 19-17. The Trojans tied to extend it to five when pulling to 29-27, but Walker got the senior night festivities started with his last kill.


Final MPSF standings

x-UC Irvine193.86324-4
x-CSU Northridge166.727323-6
x-Long Beach State1111.500814-13
UC San Diego814.3631113-16
UC Santa Barbara418.181158-19

x-clinched MPSF playoff spot

Hawaii def. USC, 30-32, 33-31, 38-36, 30-27
UC Irvine def. Pacific, 36-34, 30-17, 30-23
Stanford def. UCLA, 30-26, 30-26, 30-28
UC San Diego def. Grand Canyon, 30-12, 30-20, 30-20
End regular season
MPSF Tournament
(Seedings in parenthesis)
UCLA (8) at UC Irvine (1)
USC (5) at Stanford (4)
Long Beach State (7) at Pepperdine (2)
BYU (6) at CSU Northridge (3)