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Rose a win away from 1,000


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POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. » It's not so much a good ol' boys club as it is a very good, fairly old, elite men's club.

While the American Volleyball Coaches Association opened its convention across the street yesterday, many felt that the AARP was holding an intimate gathering at the St. Pete Times Forum. Indeed, some of the elder statesmen of NCAA Division I volleyball were holding court at the final four press conference.

Hawaii's Dave Shoji (1,016), Penn State's Russ Rose (999) and Minnesota's Mike Hebert (868) rank 2-3-4 in all-time victories at this level. Their combined win total is 2,883.

And their combined ages? The trio is happy that Texas coach Jerritt Elliott, the youngster at 41, brings the median age down to just over 56.

               

     

 

NCAA VOLLEYBALL

        Final Four

        » At Tampa, Fla.
       

TV: ESPN2
        » Radio: Hawaii matches, KKEA, 1420-AM

       

SEMIFINALS

        Today

        » Texas (28-1) vs. Minnesota (28-8), 2 p.m.

        » Penn State (36-0) vs. Hawaii (32-2), 4 p.m.
       

CHAMPIONSHIP

        Saturday

        » Today's winners, 3 p.m.

But the numbers that have caught the attention of most are 999 and 100. The first is the number of victories Rose has and the latter the NCAA-record number of consecutive wins his top-ranked Nittany Lions have amassed coming into today's second semifinal with No. 3 Hawaii.

Both are numbers that Shoji would like to see remain intact.

“;I'd like to stop him at 999 and make him wait until next year,”; said Shoji, who is 0-4 against Rose. “;It would be a nice thing to do to Russ.

“;There is pressure on Penn State to win, it's expected of them and that's what is hard to do. To win when everyone thinks you should. They've responded every time they've been challenged over the past three years. We'll see how they respond tomorrow.”;

Although Rose says the semifinal against Hawaii is not about his win total versus Shoji's, it does create an intriguing scenario. Shoji became just the second coach at this level to win 1,000 earlier this season; should Rose win today, he would join Shoji and Andy Banachowski.

“;I have a great relationship with Dave,”; Rose said. “;When we made our first trip to the final four (1993), I received a random call from him, congratulating me.

“;When I was a young coach — Dave is a few years older, I've lived a tougher life — I loved the watch the way his teams in the '70s played. This team is like that, small but play hard, hit the ball, have a great connection among themselves.”;

The most serendipitous connection is the one between Shoji and Hebert. The two were at UC Santa Barbara at the same time.

“;I actually walked into the gym, saw Hebert playing, and it got me interested in volleyball,”; Shoji said.

The two also were in rival fraternities, with Shoji's Sigma Pi team losing to Hebert's Sigma Phi Epsilon team twice in the intramural finals.

“;Dave, his fraternity's quarterback, might remember it differently, but my last IM football game, I caught the winning touchdown in the final seconds,”; said Hebert, who played receiver.

Over 40 years removed from the UCSB IM field, the two could meet up again with another championship on the line. It would take both of the underdog teams pulling off upsets.

“;It would mean a lot to be able to do that,”; Shoji said.

“;When we won the (regional final) match against Florida State, I got a text from Dave that said, 'Old guys rule,' “; Hebert said. “;If the two of us got to Saturday, I'd tell him, 'Let's show the youngsters how to do it.' I think we've planted a seed. It sure would shock the volleyball world.”;