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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

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

Tourney time
for Hawaii

Warriors will host Penn State,
UCLA and Laval in Outrigger
Hotels Invitational

By Pat Bigold

The seventh Outrigger Hotels Invitational Men's Volleyball Tournament, which opens tomorrow at the Stan Sheriff Center, couldn't be more geographically balanced.

Between Hawaii and defending champion UCLA are 2,500 miles. And that's about the same distance between the Bruins and the other two invitational contenders -- Penn State and Laval University of Quebec.

In terms of temperature and cultural swing, Laval wins hands down at the tournament. The Quebecois are coming from five below zero to 80 above. And they've left a province where French is the official language.


Bullet What: Outrigger Hotels Invitational
Bullet When: Tomorrow through Friday
Bullet Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Bullet TV: Tomorrow, UCLA vs. Laval, 5 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Penn State, 7 p.m., KFVE, live
Bullet Radio: Tomorrow, Hawaii vs. Penn State, 6:45 p.m., 1420-AM, live
Bullet RealAudio: Click here
Bullet Tickets: Between $6 and $12



Bullet UCLA vs. Laval, 5 p.m.
Bullet Hawaii vs. Penn State, 7 p.m.


Bullet UCLA vs. Penn State, 5 p.m.
Bullet Hawaii vs. Laval, 7 p.m.


Bullet Penn State vs. Laval, 5 p.m.
Bullet Hawaii vs. UCLA, 7 p.m.

But Hawaii will be more concerned with Penn State and UCLA, both potential NCAA final four teams this year.

The Bruins, who are the defending national champions and three-time defending Outrigger champions, will meet the Warriors on Friday.

Hawaii hasn't beaten the Bruins since the NCAA West Regional in 1999. Last year, UCLA beat the Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center three times. The Bruins also lead the series with Hawaii, 37-9.

The Nittany Lions, Hawaii's opponent tomorrow night, have lost six straight to the Warriors, dating back to January 1996.

Penn State, which opened its season last week with a 3-1 win against national runner-up Ohio State, has made it to eight of the last 10 final fours.

UCLA is ranked No. 3 in the Volleyball Magazine 2001 preseason top 10 poll. Hawaii is ranked No. 6 and Penn State No. 9.

Thursday's opponent, Laval, hasn't been here since 1997, when the Warriors swept at the SSC.

After taking two matches from Lewis University of Illinois last week, Mike Wilton's Warriors are hitting .356 as a team.

All-American outside hitter Costas Theocharidis leads the Hawaii offense, averaging 4.71 kills a game.

The sophomore, who was the team's offensive leader last year, too, is hitting .459 after 61 swings.

Junior middle blocker Dejan Miladinovic, one of the nation's best at the position two seasons ago, leads in blocking, averaging 2.0 per game.

Freshman outside hitter Eyal Zimet leads the defense, averaging 1.86 blocks a game. He also leads in service aces with four.

Senior middle blocker Brenton Davis leads in hitting percentage with .621 (29 attempts).

Head coach Mark Pavlik's Nittany Lions proved how tough they'll be this year with their handling of Ohio State.

They outhit the Buckeyes, .446 to .250, in the 30-32, 30-23, 30-22, 30-24 victory. They outblocked their Big Ten rivals, 11.5 to 8, and led in service aces, 5 to 3.

UCLA is led by 6-foot-10 senior Adam Naeve, a three-time All-American, and 6-7 senior outside hitter Mark Williams, who played libero for the 2000 Australian Olympic team. Williams led the Bruins with 63 aces last year, a single season school record.

There will be a local face on the Bruins' roster.

Parker Smith, a 6-4 freshman outside hitter, was a three-year track and volleyball letterman at Punahou. He was last year's state shot put champion.

Al Scates, who led the Bruins to their 18th NCAA title last spring, is in his 39th year as head coach. He is the winningest coach in NCAA volleyball history.

The least known entry is the Laval Rouge et Or (Red and Gold).

Having arrived at 1 a.m. Saturday after a much-delayed air journey from frigid Quebec City, the players wanted nothing more than to go outside the hotel and stay outside.

"Yesterday, we spent all day outside, and we swam on the big waves on the north shore," said head coach Pascal Clement. He said a lifeguard showed his players a safe entrance into the water at Sunset Beach.

Laval lost a long match to Lewis University at the Stan Sheriff Center on Sunday, 30-27, 40-38, 30-24.

The Rouge et Or are 19-3 since they began play in October. They have won the Quebec Conference three years in a row.

During the last decade, they won three national titles (1990, 1992, 1994) and were runners-up in 1995 and 1999.

Laval, which returns four starters, is led by fourth-year setter Gabriel Giguere (5-10), fourth-year opposite Eric Lebreton (6-4), and fourth-year middle blocker Mathieu LaGrandeur (6-6).

LaGrandeur hits .430 and averages 1.6 blocks per game while Lebreton is a .360 hitter who averages 4.24 kills per game.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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