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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 10, 2000

R A I N B O W _ V O L L E Y B A L L

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Tony Ching will get to a chance to play in front
of him family and friends tonight.

Walk-on Ching
plays a surprising
starting role

The UH freshman walk-on gets
the nod for the first time in a home
match tonight against
No. 1 Pepperdine

By Dave Reardon


TONY Ching was just having a little fun when he wrote on a bio sheet that he aspires to be a professional wrestler. "That was just a goof," the University of Hawaii volleyball player said. "I love to watch wrestling. They're so creative and the story lines are so much fun."

Ching seems to have absorbed a catchphrase of his favorite actor/athlete, The Rock:

"Know your role."

He has done that perfectly so far in his young Rainbow career. And it's not so easy for the freshman walk-on.


Bullet Who : No. 1 Pepperdine (12-1, 10-1) vs. No. 5 Hawaii (9-5, 5-4).
Bullet When:.7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow.
Bullet Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Bullet TV: Tape delay tonight, 8:30 p.m.; live tomorrow, KFVE (Channel 5)
Bullet RealAudio: Click here

Unlike a scripted wrestler, the expectations for Ching change from match to match, or even from play to play.

Sometimes he's asked to supply offense at outside hitter. Other times it's defense from the libero spot.

Ching's newest function is starter. He lines up as one of UH's outside hitters for the first serve tonight when Hawaii hosts top-ranked Pepperdine.

"I'm excited. This is the first time I'm going to get to start in front of my home, in front of Hawaii," the former Kamehameha Schools standout said. "It's one of the reasons I came to this school, because of the fan support. It's been my dream to play in front of them, so I finally get to realize one of my dreams and hopefully I can come through and help us win."

Earlier this season, Ching came off the bench to ignite UH rallies. But neither of his efforts -- against Brigham Young and UCLA -- were enough to carry Hawaii to victory. Through little fault of Ching, the Rainbows lost both matches in five games.

Tonight is Ching's second chance to influence a match from the beginning. He also started UH's five-game loss to USC last week and performed well, with with season-highs in five categories, including 12 kills.

"Now I feel an urgency to play at the best of my ability,'' said Ching. "Usually when I come off the bench, it's because the team is lacking something, so I know specifically what I gotta go in and do. "But now that I'm in there at the beginning, I have to perform at all aspects from the start."

That's especially true because the Rainbows are injury riddled.

Costas Theocharidis, UH's top offensive player, is out for both matches with an intestinal ailment.

Eyal Zimet, another starting outside hitter, is also out, with a stiff back.

And starting setter Stefan Krejci will play, but his effectiveness could be limited due to an ankle sprain he suffered against USC.

Rainbow coach Mike Wilton will move Torry Tukuafu from the middle to Theocharidis' spot, with Geronimo Chala starting in Tukuafu's usual position. Ching takes Zimet's place.

Ching has played volleyball a little more than three years. He said he will miss Theocaridis and Zimet on the court because of their experience - both have played extensively internationally - but Ching will try to use what he has learned from them.

"They bring a whole new philosophy to the game,'' Ching said. "They have much more technical aspects to the game than the Western style.

"They teach you so much, from hitting to passing. It helped me so much to be able to blend that knowledge."

Ching downplays his own ability, saying, "I haven't been blessed."

Wilton disagrees.

"Tony's extremely capable of having big matches,'' the coach said.

"He's strong, quick and talented. He's a bulldog. I like that, no, I love that kind of player.

"Tony's a lead-by-action kind of guy. He talks to his teammates, and he's not going to back down. But he's more 'Hey, watch my lead.' "

Ching said his coach at Kamehameha, former Rainbow Pono Ma'a, helped him develop his fiery style.

Ching's emotions will definitely be high tonight: Pepperdine was one of several schools that snubbed him because of his relative lack of height at 6-foot-2.

And as any wrestling fan knows, revenge is what it's all about.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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