Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, January 30, 2002



Hawaii hangs on
to upset Stanford

UH struggled in serving and passing,
but prevailed in 5 games

Star-Bulletin staff

Although the Hawaii volleyball team hasn't shown signs of a proven identity yet, the Warriors are making one characteristic obvious.

They like to take the hard road.

In an intimate setting in Burnham Pavilion at Stanford, fourth-ranked Hawaii pulled out a squeaker, defeating second-ranked Stanford 36-34, 23-30, 30-23, 27-30, 15-12.

It was the Warriors' first game in 10 days and their first road trip of the season. And though Hawaii (4-2, 1-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) has spent more time in practice focusing on serving and passing, it was in those two areas that the Warriors continued to struggle.

"We made it real hard on ourselves tonight just because we needed to stay focused more," Wilton said. "Our focus was in and out and that manifested itself in serving and passing.

"We would just hit these stretches where we couldn't pass to save our lives. And then these stretches where we couldn't serve to save our lives. It got so bad that it was like we stopped trusting each other because those are pretty rudimentary skills in the game.

"One really amazing characteristic about this team is that they have so much heart. So they figured out a way to get back and going again. There was a lot that was good, but I would really like us to clean up our serving and passing.

In spite of poor passing, setter Kimo Tuyay made do, collecting a career high 76 assists. The sophomore ran a balanced attack with four players in double-digit kills. Costas Theocharidis used a mix bag of tricks to pick up a season-high 33 kills. Eyal Zimet notched 14 kills and Dejan Miladinovic crushed 11 balls and stuffed six. Freshman Jose Delgado, starting in the place of an injured Tony Ching who did not travel, had 13 kills.

"Jose was huge tonight. He just had a great match," Wilton said. "Delano (Thomas) did a lot of good things, too. He just takes up space in the middle."

Thomas replaced Brian Nordberg midway through the match and had seven kills and three blocks.

Both teams hit well, but it was not because there was an absence of defense. The Warriors' serving was weak and didn't challenge the Cardinal passing, which made it easy for setter Kevin Hansen to use more than No. 1 option Curt Toppel. The All-American pounded 21 kills, but Marcus Skacel led Stanford (5-2, 4-2) with 23 kills.

Hawaii didn't have the chance to get comfortable with its early 14-7 lead before Stanford caught the Warriors at 15-15 with a block. Both squads sprinted toward the end only to turn the game into a marathon.

The Warriors were unable to capitalize on their first game-point opportunity at 29-27. A tip by Stanford middle Chris Sandman and a Nordberg attack went long to tie the game. Neither team scored consecutive points until the Warriors finally clinched Game 1 when Theocharidis put away a ball and Skacel hit long.

Hawaii had a 10-7 lead early in Game 2 but it disappeared on a 7-2 Stanford run. Later, a six-point stretch made it 23-16 and put Hawaii out of reach.

The two teams battled back and forth in Game 3 before the Warriors broke out of a 12-12 tie with a four-point spurt. Hawaii continued to add to the lead with solid hitting.

The Warriors spotted the Cardinal a 7-3 lead in Game 4 with three missed serves, a ball-handling error and a mis-hit. They never got their offense into a groove but did manage to pull to within one at 22-21 with a block by Miladinovic.

Stanford forced a fifth game by serving well when it needed to. Hawaii served just one ace and missed 16 serves, while Stanford bombed seven aces.

In the deciding Game 5, Hawaii made fewer errors and used strong performances from its rookies to build an 11-6 lead. Delgado had two kills during a Delano Thomas serving run that forced bad passing from the Cardinal. But just as quickly, the Cardinal closed to 11-9. Thomas missed his serve after Stanford's timeout, Theocharidis hit a ball into the antenna and the Cardinal posted a kill.

"There was no lead that was safe," Wilton said. "Are you kidding me? 11-6 in the fifth and it wasn't safe at all. My last words to them when we went out of the huddle were 'let's break their back. This serve is in' and we served it into the net."

After Wilton's timeout, Hawaii's veterans took over with two kills each from Dejan Miladinovic and Theocharidis. The reigning AVCA Player of the Year punctuated the game with his 33nd kill of the match.

Hawaii may have pulled out the win on the first night, but Wilton is instructing his team to play like they didn't.

"We have to act like we lost," Wilton said. "They're going to be highly motivated because they came out on the short end."

Today's rematch is at 5 p.m. HST.

Note: Stanford libero Seth Ring is the younger brother of former 'Bow Jason Ring. ... Ring hurt his shoulder diving for a ball in the third game.

Hawaii def. Stanford

36-34, 23-30, 30-23, 27-30, 15-12

Warriors (4-2, 1-0 MPSF)

g k e att pct. bs ba d

Milodinovic 5 11 2 22 .409 0 6 1

Tuyay 5 1 0 4 .250 0 1 11

Zimet 5 14 5 25 .360 0 4 4

Theocharidis 5 33 4 55 .527 0 3 9

Delgado 5 13 3 23 .435 0 6 4

Nordberg 3 7 4 13 .231 0 4 0

Muise 4 0 0 0 .000 0 0 6

Podlewski 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 4

Thomas 5 7 2 9 .556 0 3 0

Totals 5 86 20 151 .437 0 27 39

Cardinal (5-2, 4-2 MPSF)

g k e att pct. bs ba d

Bocage 5 12 5 28 .250 1 4 1

Sandman 5 10 1 17 .529 1 4 2

Strickland 5 12 4 20 .400 0 5 7

Toppel 5 21 8 45 .289 0 3 6

Hansen 5 5 0 7 .714 1 0 2

Skacel 5 23 7 40 .400 0 1 17

Vogel 4 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1

Ring 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 3

Bomhack 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Totals 5 83 25 157 .369 3 17 39

Key--g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.
Aces--Hawaii (1): Theocharidis. Stanford (7): Skacel 4, Bocage, Sandman, Toppel.
Assists--Hawaii (84): Tuyay 76, Delgado 3, Zimet 3, Milodinovic, Theocharidis. Stanford (82): Hansen 73, Skacel 3, Bomhack 2, Strickland 2, Toppel 2, .
T--2:20. Officials--Eric Asami, Max Kernaghan.

UH Athletics

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