Star-Bulletin Sports



Bruins’ Smith keeps
answering call

By Grace Wen

This season has been a topsy-turvy one for UCLA's Parker Smith, and he wasn't even supposed to be playing.

Used sparingly as a freshman after injuring his right thumb midway through the season, the 6-foot-4 outside hitter had planned on redshirting this year. The Punahou graduate discovered it would take five years to complete his studies and wanted to be on the court his last season in school.

But all that was put on hold after teammate Jonathan Acosta tore an abdominal muscle in late January. Smith, who wasn't in UCLA's media guide or listed on the Bruins' roster, was called back for duty.

He started four matches before his sophomore season took another twist. He broke his right pinkie finger during a blocking drill in a February practice, sidelining him for six weeks. Once again, the sophomore thought he would be redshirting after all, this time with a medical hardship. But as his finger healed, Smith thought he could help the team.

UCLA had tried several players at the position with limited success, so two days after returning to the court, Smith was thrust into a starting role that caught even him by surprise. He had six kills and hit .300 against USC two weeks ago.

"It's been tough," Smith said. "When I told (coach Al Scates) I might want to come back to the traveling team, he ended up telling me that I would be starting with a broken finger. It's kind of hard to adjust to that after being out six weeks. To come back and be thrown into a starting role is kind of tough."

But he sees positives in the on-again, off-again year.

"This experience has taught me a lot," Smith said. "It's taught me how to deal with stuff like that. In the future, if I have a full healthy season, it'll make it that much easier."

It's not the first time in his career that Smith has shown resilience. During his senior year at Punahou, Smith went down in Game 3 of the state championship match vs. Kamehameha with a severe left ankle sprain.

He was taped immediately and re-entered later in the game to rally his team to the state title. Smith played the rest of the match jumping and landing just on his right leg.

He said that he didn't really feel the pain with the adrenaline racing through him. Smith remembers being in a wheelchair briefly and then on crutches for a month after.

And in a way that experience helped prepare him for this tumultuous year.

When: 7 p.m. today and tomorrow
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE
Radio: Live tomorrow, 1420-AM

Notes: Hawaii trails the series 41-10. The Warriors and Bruins split the regular-season matches last year. Hawaii won for the first time at Pauley Pavilion since 1983. UCLA won the next night and took the rubber match in April, defeating Hawaii in the conference tournament finals for the automatic bid to the final four. ... The Warriors defeated UC Irvine twice last week. Hawaii coach Mike Wilton is seven wins shy of his 200th victory as the Warriors coach. ...UCLA won nine straight before being swept 3-0 by Pepperdine last Saturday.


HAWAII (17-6, 14-4)

Ht. KPG Aces Digs

S Kimo Tuyay (So.) 6-2 0.38 5 99

MB Dejan Miladinovic (Sr.) 6-7 2.05 2 37

MB Delano Thomas (Fr.) 6-7 1.78 10 9

OH Costas Theocharidis (Jr.) 6-3 5.58 29 132

OH Eyal Zimet (Jr.) 6-2 2.74 10 109

OH Tony Ching (Jr.) 6-2 2.44 1 46

L Vernon Podlewski (Sr.) 5-8 N/A N/A 155

UCLA (23-4, 15-3)

Ht. KPG Aces Digs

S Rich Nelson (Jr.) 6-3 0.63 7 145

MB Chris Pena (So.) 6-6 2.90 18 40

MB Paul Johnson (Fr.) 6-8 2.28 0 9

OH Cameron Mount (Jr.) 6-8 3.60 31 138

OH Parker Smith (So.) 6-4 1.84 1 17

Opp Matt Komer (Sr.) 6-7 3.80 38 138

L Adam Shrader (So.) 6-3 N/A N/A 247

UH Athletics

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