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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 17, 2000

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

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
University of Hawaii middle blocker Brenton Davis.

Davis always
goes by the book
when it comes to

The middle blocker is an avid
reader but will do a different kind
of reading against UCLA

By Dave Reardon


Whether it's something by Hunter S. Thompson or Brandon Taliaferro, Brenton Davis likes to read.

The middle blocker for the University of Hawaii men's volleyball team is a journalism major from Las Vegas. So naturally, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is his favorite book.

Tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center, Davis does a different kind of reading. Part of his job is to anticipate where Taliaferro, UCLA's All-American setter, will send the ball.

Surprisingly, Taliaferro makes for breezy reading, Davis said.

Although Hawaii lost to UCLA in five games in the final of the Outrigger Hotels Invitational in January, Davis said Taliaferro was not mystifying.


Bullet What: Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball.
Bullet Who: UCLA at Hawaii.
Bullet Where: Stan Sheriff Center.
Bullet When: 7 p.m. today and tomorrow.
Bullet Broadcast: KFVE-TV.

"I've found him pretty easy. He's not real deceptive. But he's a big guy (6-foot-5) and you have to be wary of him dumping the ball," Davis said. "Overall, he's pretty easy to read, pretty deliberate in his setting mannerisms. He likes to set the longest distances, and definitely has other tendencies.

"I think we have UCLA well-scouted. We had two swings for the win last time, so we're ready for some payback of sorts."

Davis has reason for such confidence. He sparked Hawaii's four-game victory over then-No. 1 Pepperdine last Saturday with 13 blocks. Davis averages 1.98 blocks per game, seventh in the nation.

"He's become really good at cues, at making reads," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "He's taking long looks at the setter, which is good. We want to know what that guy is doing with the rock."

A bit undersized at 6-5 for middle blocker, Davis makes up for it with quickness.

Wilton said Davis is a key player for the Rainbows, regardless of his statistics.

"He's been playing well overall, and his play Saturday was fabulous," Wilton said. "If he's not blocking somebody, he's altering their shots. He always comes to go hard, practices or games."

Wilton also said new starting setter Russell Lockwood is adept at spreading the ball around, so Davis may get more swings than before and a chance to improve on his 2.42 kills-per-game.

Davis said that would be nice, but only if it makes the team better.

"As a middle, it's just my job to be up every time and give the setter that extra option and make them respect the middle," Davis said.

"I saw more sets last year (playing outside hitter) but in the middle, you get satisfaction other ways, like from getting their middle to jump and the ball goes outside for an easy kill. Maybe to the untrained eye, it goes unnoticed, but it's definitely a crucial part of the game."

Davis said all the jumping hasn't caused a recurrence of shin splints that kept him out of action at Long Beach (Calif.) City College. But sometimes tendinitis in his knees makes him feel "like an old man" at 22, he said.

"I feel it in practice," Davis said. "But when game time comes and all those people are in the arena, the adrenaline pumps in and the pain goes away."

Davis calls Hawaii "volleyball heaven," and said the fan support is one of the reasons he became a Rainbow.

Fred Hiapo, a prominent local volleyball figure who now lives in Las Vegas, helped Davis choose UH.

As for his favorite author, that's a product of retro-curiosity.

"Growing up in the '80s and '90s, our generation didn't have those trippy and psychedelic experiences," Davis said. "Reading about it gives you an idea of what went on."

Then again, growing up in Las Vegas during any era can be interesting.

"The Strip on New Year's is pretty insane,'' said Davis. "People are hanging from light poles and climbing the statues at Caesar's; a guy screaming from the top of a casino, while the crowd yells at him to jump.''

Even if Hawaii beats its rival tonight and tomorrow, the Sheriff Center probably won't get that wild.

But it could come close.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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