Monday, April 26, 1999
The UH volleyball coach hadBy Cindy Luis
already made plans to play at BYU
even before Saturday's
win over UCLA
Oh, ye of little faith.
At what point Saturday night did the Hawaii men's volleyball team know it would beat UCLA?
Was it when Chris Kosty served seven consecutive points in Game 1 to cap an improbable rally that gave the Rainbows a 16-14 win?
Or was it when the oft-suspect Hawaii passing game dug deep and hard, digging some of the top hitters in the country and the best serving team in the conference?
Maybe it was around the time that Clay Stanley put down his school record-shattering 50th kill, which tied it at 15-15 in Game 4. That moment was quickly followed by Dejan Miladinovic getting in on his UH record-breaking 22nd block assist, which gave the Rainbows match point.
If you picked any one of the above, you would be wrong. What set the tone for No. 8 Hawaii's stunning 16-14, 15-11, 14-16, 17-15 victory over No. 3 UCLA came hours before the first serve at the Stan Sheriff Center. After the pregame practice, Rainbow coach Mike Wilton passed out the itinerary for THIS week.
The paper read: 2 p.m. practice Monday, 2 p.m. practice Tuesday. Leave for Provo Tuesday night. Play BYU Thursday.
"That was the plan," said Wilton after his team knocked the defending national champions out of the playoffs. "We were booked and ready to be out of here Tuesday night."
Wilton's faith moved mountains and shook up the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament even more. Before the Rainbows took the court Saturday, they knew one upset had already occurred: No. 2 Pepperdine, playing without Player of the Year contender George Roumaine, had been eliminated by unranked Southern Cal.
Two hours and 55 minutes later, the Rainbows one-upped the Trojans. Hawaii handed UCLA its first-ever first-round playoff loss and prevented the Bruins from playing at home for a national championship; UCLA is 24-0 with 10 titles when hosting the final four at Pauley Pavilion.
"It's just a great feeling to knock out a top team, especially after they kicked us twice earlier this season," Stanley said yesterday. "Beating UCLA was so big. It wasn't a fluke. We came out, we played hard and we won. That's the most anyone could ask for.
"As for the 50 kills ... it's no big deal. I just wanted to do whatever it took to get the job done. If that means 50 kills, 92 swings, that's what I'll do."
It's a toss-up as to what was more surprising -- Stanley's consistency (.402) or UCLA's inability to stop the Rainbows' 6-foot-9 sophomore. Bruin coach Al Scates has 17 banners to show for his in-depth scouting reports.
The UCLA coaching brain trust went brain-dead when it came to Stanley, who didn't even start and who sat a portion of Game 4. He first entered the match with Hawaii trailing 7-2 in Game 1, put down his first swing and finished the game with 10 kills.
Wilton pulled Stanley with the Rainbows behind 4-1 in Game 4 and put him back in when the deficit had grown to 11-6.
"That's when we made our move," said Wilton. "What was neat was that both times the guy came in off the bench and did the job. I told him to "Search and destroy.' Or words to that effect. It was "Go out and geev 'um.' And that's what he did."
More importantly, it was what the Rainbows did as a team that had Stanley breaking Yuval Katz's kill mark of 47 in the 1996 NCAA Championship match against UCLA. Miladinovic owned the middle -- his 22 block assists broke the mark of 20 set by Jerry Kuroda in 1981 -- as well as finishing with a triple-double (22 block assists, 14 kills, 18 digs).
Senior setter Mason Kuo also had a triple-double: 90 assists to go with 16 digs and 10 block assists. Junior Andre Breuer added 21 kills and 11 digs, and 6-foot junior Russell Lockwood, the shortest player on the court, was in on eight block assists.
"Little blockers are the toughest to hit against," said the 6-2 Kosty. "They're usually the smartest players out there."
The first thing Kosty did after Saturday's match was call his brother John, an assistant at Stanford. The Cardinal were the last to defeat UCLA in an MPSF match, back in 1997; a week later, Stanford defeated the Bruins for the NCAA title.
"He was surprised, but he thought if we played well we could do it," said Kosty. "I think we knew we were the better team after winning the first two games.
"And then when we caught them at 15-15 (in Game 4), it was like they were thinking, "Hey, wait, it's supposed to be game over already and go to Game 5.'"
Only it didn't. Breuer put down the match-ender from the back row on Hawaii's first swing at aloha ball.
As the crowd of 6,123 roared, the Bruins froze in stunned silence. Senior Danny Farmer, who had a career-high 29 kills, collapsed on the court, the second time the final game of his career ended with a loss. (He was a wide receiver on the UCLA football team that lost to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl).
"Now we just continue to do what we did against UCLA," said Stanley.