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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

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

Warriors face two
big tests vs. Gauchos

By Pat Bigold

Hawaii men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton knows this week's two-match series against No. 2 UC-Santa Barbara is a big test.

A sweep of the Gauchos would help legitimize the seventh-ranked Warriors as one of the NCAA's best this year.


Bullet What: Men's college volleyball
Bullet Who: Hawaii vs. UC-Santa-Barbara
Bullet When: Tomorrow and Friday, 7 p.m.
Bullet Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Bullet Series: Hawaii leads, 31-17
Bullet Coaches: Hawaii-Mike Wilton, 12th year (200-86, .699). UC-Santa-Barbara-Ken Preston, 21st year (406-264, .605)
Bullet RealAudio: Click here

A win in either match would be the 201st of Wilton's career.

But he doesn't think it will come easy.

"They're going to remember that we beat them on their own floor last year in front of a wild and rabid crowd," said Wilton.

That's when Hawaii swept the Gauchos in Santa Barbara's Robertson Gymnasium.

Last year, the Gauchos finished 12-13. But this season, they've beaten No. 1 Long Beach State (4-0), No. 5 (formerly No. 1) Pepperdine (5-1) and defending national champion UCLA (4-3) in exhibitions.

"I think one bottom line is they beat UCLA and we didn't," said Wilton.

Sophomore Ben Koski, a 6-foot-5 opposite, had 18 kills in the five-game win over the Bruins on Jan. 6.

"They've got a new setter and some new middles," said Wilton. "They're very athletic, real tenacious and they're playing good. They were beaten by Stanford last Saturday, and Stanford's a very good team."

In the 3-1 loss, the Gauchos hit .323 to the fourth-ranked Cardinal's .434.

Koski and 6-2 junior outside hitter Andy Rivera had 16 kills apiece in the match.

Wilton said the Warriors and Gauchos match up well physically.

"We're about the same size," he said. "They're considered a small team and so are we."

Wilton said Hawaii, which held only a slight advantage in blocking in Saturday's sweep of Pacific, must work on that phase of its game to be ready for UC-Santa Barbara.

"They come at you from different angles," he said.

"And they try to triple-block as much as possible."

The Warriors are led by All-American sophomore Costas Theocharidis, who is averaging 4.43 kills a game. Middle blocker Brenton Davis, averaging 2.96 kills, is hitting a team-leading .457, followed by Dejan Miladinovic's .447.

Eyal Zimet leads the defense with 2.14 digs a game while Miladinovic leads in blocking average (1.64).


The Gauchos have two Hawaii connections on their roster. Sophomore Dylan Fern, a 5-11 Punahou graduate, is a reserve setter. Sophomore middle blocker Dan Terry, whose hometown is listed as Santa Cruz, Calif., was born in Honolulu. ... In response to letters to the editor charging that he is allotted 12 tickets per match, Wilton said he actually receives only eight. He also said that son Aaron Wilton, who was appointed this year to serve as second assistant to him, is only a temporary emergency hire. His term expires on May 31. The younger Wilton is filling the slot previously held by (now volunteer assistant) Matt Johnson, who is now spending most of his time running youth programs at Pearl Harbor. ... An increasingly familiar face at the courtside statistician's table is Wahine senior captain Jessica Sudduth. Sudduth, a communications major, is interning with the sports information director's office. ... James Jesson, a 6-5 outside hitter from Santa Cruz, will be making a recruiting visit to the campus this week. The Warriors' coaching staff could not confirm the visit, per NCAA rules. Jesson is one of eight potential UH recruits.

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