Star-Bulletin Sports


Hawaii's Jose Delgado, right, and Dejan Miladinovic celebrated after the Warriors beat Pepperdine yesterday for the national championship. Hawaii won its first-ever men's volleyball national title 29-31, 31-29, 30-21, 30-24.

He was ‘Cha-Ching!’

Tony Ching was money as the
Warriors won their first NCAA title

»See story in news: Champs

By Grace Wen

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. >> A day after his 21st birthday, Tony Ching celebrated for real.

The Warrior outside hitter had an instrumental role in helping the Hawaii volleyball team capture its first NCAA championship. Hawaii defeated Pepperdine 29-31, 31-29, 30-21, 30-24 yesterday.

After a year of numerous personal ups and downs, including two injuries and a suspension that kept him from being a factor until the second half of the season, Ching gave Hawaii the offensive punch it needed to win a title.

The 6-foot-2 junior helped the Warriors diversify their attack and shift some of the attention away from All-American Costas Theocharidis.

"We like to spread it around," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. "We like to make sure somebody doesn't get bored if they're putting a lot of balls away for us. And (Tony) was money. In fact, he was money from Game 2 on."

Hawaii head coach Mike Wilton, left, and his son, assistant coach Aaron Wilton, celebrated a point in the final game against Pepperdine.

Actually, Ching said he felt strong from the get-go after putting away four balls in six swings with no errors in Game 1. The Kamehameha Schools graduate consistently avoided the block or found the seam on combination plays out of the back row too.

"I wanted it real bad," Ching said. "I just turned 21 yesterday and this is the best birthday present I've ever had. I had the opportunity to give it to myself. It's another volleyball game, but this is what I've been working the last three years for."

He wasn't the only one working as his entire family has gone to most - if not all - of his matches to cheer for him.

After the game, Ching raced into the stands to engulf his mother, Lynn, in a large hug.

"This is what he's been waiting for for three years. It couldn't be a better birthday present," a jubilant Lynn said. "He said, 'Mom, this is what I want for my birthday.' We finally got it."

It was a present to everyone as Ching dug nine balls, hammered a season-high 17 kills and hit .519 to ease the burden off Theocharidis.

Greet the Warriors

The volleyball team returns from Pennsylvania today on United flight 61 at 6:33 p.m.


Oceanic will learn tomorrow whether it will be able to re-run the championship match.

"I've been waiting for this the whole year," Theocharidis said. "Sometimes it's really hard for me to take all the balls. I'm a human being too. It's nice to have other people stepping up and taking pressure off me. Tony Ching had an All-American performance tonight. I wasn't playing the whole court. Sometimes I was roaming around and watching him play and going 'yeah, yeah, yeah.' "

The Warriors will be going 'yeah, yeah, yeah' for days to come. Hawaii arrives in Honolulu today at 6:33 p.m. When the Warriors finished second in 1996, fire trucks greeted them at the airport and it took them over an hour to get from the plane to the baggage claim.

As for Ching's real birthday celebration, besides a championship ring and watch, Ching expects big things at home.

"My family is already having a party. When I get home, it'll be special. It was my dream to play at home and win a national championship, it's more than I would've ever expected."

UH Athletics

E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin