Star-Bulletin Sports



UH to host
men’s volleyball
final 4 in 2004

Wilton says he's "shocked"
at getting the bid after being
turned down for '03

By Cindy Luis

Mark Pavlik so admires the support at Hawaii men's volleyball matches that the Penn State coach won't even use the term "crowd."

"I hate to call them 'the crowd,' " said Pavlik. "They are FANS. They treat volleyball the way it should be treated. There is no better place to play than Hawaii."

The NCAA has agreed. Nearly a month after turning down a bid by Hawaii to host the 2003 final four, the NCAA awarded the 2004 tournament to UH.

For the first time since 1973-75, the men's tournament will be played in the West Region three consecutive years. Long Beach State will host next year's tournament at The Pyramid and UCLA will host in 2005 at Pauley Pavilion.

Penn State, out of the East Region, hosted the final four last May where the Warriors won their first NCAA title. Pavlik, whose Nittany Lions fell to the Warriors in the semifinals, said he didn't know how the bid process was handled, but suggested that perhaps there had been no bid from the Midwest Region.

(The NCAA usually alternates a Midwest or East site with a West site, although Hawaii and UCLA did host consecutive tournaments in 1998 and 1999.)

"I'm shocked," said Warrior coach Mike Wilton. "I'm surprised because they turned us down for '03. This is really wonderful news for our fans and we will make every effort to be in it.

"Personally, I'd like to see it here every year."

Hawaii is one of the few places where men's volleyball is a revenue sport. The Warriors have led the nation in attendance since 1995, the first year the team played in the Stan Sheriff Center.

Last season, Hawaii (24-8) drew 89,387 fans, averaging 5,587 in 16 matches. Conversely, a total of 9,826 fans turned out when the Warriors were on the road for 13 matches, an average of 756. (At the final four, the two-night total was an additional 10,609 fans.)

Hawaii hosted the 1998 final four and, although the Warriors were not in the tournament, two NCAA attendance records were set. A single-match mark of 9,822 watched UCLA defeated Pepperdine for the title; the two-day attendance of 18,901 is also an NCAA record.

"Our fan interest, coupled with a wonderful program head coach Mike Wilton has created, made it an easy decision for the NCAA to select our site," said new athletic director Herman Frazier.

Hawaii also hosted the 1991 tournament where Long Beach State beat Southern California at Blaisdell Arena. Penn State, with Pavlik as an assistant, lost to Long Beach State in the semifinals.

"There is no comparison with 1991 and what Hawaii has now," said Pavlik. "Hopefully, my team will bring me back there in 2004."

UH Athletics

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