Shanghai squad
could surprise

Shanghai Oriental's volleyball
skills and unique style will
entertain fans at UH's
Outrigger Classic

Game Day

By Grace Wen

Everything they do will look a bit strange at first.

From the way the players celebrate scoring a point to the pace of volleyball it plays, the Shanghai Oriental volleyball team will do things not seen before at the Stan Sheriff Center.

It is the exhibition team of the ninth annual Outrigger Classic for good reason. Volleyball fans will love the quick, complicated level of volleyball Shanghai plays. The precision, finesse and quickness in its offense are the results of countless hours of training.

Shanghai kicks off the Outrigger Classic today at 5 p.m. against Ball State. Hawaii and Penn State follow at 7:30 p.m.

Though none of the matches will count toward the overall record of the other participating teams, Shanghai is not a team to be taken lightly.

"It's a great challenge for us," senior Costas Theocharidis said. "They have all these experienced, mature players. The coach was coach of the national team. They're a really good team. They practice really hard. We practiced with them. They're a good, good team."

Shanghai brought five Chinese national team members here, two more than Hawaii faced last November during part one of the cultural exchange. Head coach Shen FuLin has logged time in the past with the national team as a coach and a setter.

Like Hawaii, Shanghai is not terribly big (the average height is 6-foot-3 and the tallest player is 6-7) but it compensates for lack of height with solid fundamentals. There are thousands of training hours among the players who eat, breathe and sleep volleyball at the Shanghai Sports Institute, an athletic complex an hour from the main part of the city.

Shanghai practices six days a week, two times a day. The players get one day a week to go home and be with their parents or girlfriends. None of them have siblings, as China's burgeoning population limits each family to one child.

Life at the institute is the inverse of most American universities. Classes are fit in around practice and playing schedules. Every player on the 12-man roster has been at the training facility a minimum of four years and some have been there for over a decade. From this group, two or three will stay with the team as coaches after they finish playing.

Xu WenFei, the captain of the team and a former national team member, will probably take that path. Xu started playing volleyball in the third grade and has been training full-time since age 14. He is the team elder at 26. The youngest members are 19 (Cheng JiaHao and Wang ZhiTeng) and are part of a system in which the older players mentor the younger ones until they retire.

It is Xu's second trip to Hawaii. Xu came in 1998 with the Chinese national team to play the U.S. national team in a match at the Blaisdell Arena. The others had never been to Hawaii.

The players watched their first hula show yesterday, and today's agenda includes a Pearl Harbor visit. It is one of the few times the team will do something not related to volleyball on a trip. Shanghai hopes the activities won't be too much of a distraction. It knows Hawaii will be much tougher to beat at home.

"It's possible that when Hawaii came out they weren't adjusted to the environment," Xu said. "It's going to be harder here. This is their home court."

The Warriors began the first part of this cultural exchange last November. Hawaii spent nine days in China and scrimmaged with Shanghai in two matches and lost both. Xu admits that Shanghai didn't think much of Hawaii's level at first but was impressed enough by the end of the trip that a better relationship between the teams was forged.

Shanghai, however, left a lasting impression on the Warriors.

"I hope the crowd comes to watch the game," Theocharidis said. "It's the same thing like when the Wahine played the Russian team. I don't think Hawaii has been exposed to volleyball at the international level. It's kind of exciting to watch them. They play really fast.

"When they pass well, you just lose them. It's kind of confusing for our block. We played them three or four times, so we know what they can do. They (Ball State and Penn State) are going to be lost. They're going to have trouble."


Warrior volleyball

When: Today, Ball State vs. Shanghai Oriental, 5 p.m., Hawaii vs. Penn State, 7:30 p.m.; tomorrow, PSU vs. Shanghai, 5 p.m., UH vs. Ball State, 7:30 p.m.,
Saturday, PSU vs. BSU, 5 p.m. Hawaii vs. Shanghai, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: All matches live, KFVE
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

Probable starters

Penn State (0-0)

Ht. KPG Aces DPG

S Nate Matthews (Jr.) 6-4 0.08 4 0.23

MB Keith Kowal (Jr.) 6-5 1.23 2 0.23

MB Norm Keil (Sr.) 6-9 1.99 7 0.38

OH Carlos Guerra (Sr.) 6-5 4.41 29 1.62

OH Zach Slenker (Sr.) 6-5 3.37 20 0.30

Opp Zeljko Koljesar (Sr.) 6-5 3.88 30 1.45

L Ricky Mattei (Jr.) 5-11 n/a n/a 2.01

Hawaii (2-0)

Ht. KPG Aces DPG

S Kimo Tuyay (Jr.) 6-2 .29 0 1.29

MB Delano Thomas (So.) 6-7 4.00 5 0.14

MB Joshua Stanhiser (Jr.) 6-10 1.29 1 0.00

OH Costas Theocharidis (Sr.) 6-3 4.57 2 1.71

OH Tony Ching (Sr.) 6-2 3.86 1 2.43

Opp Eyal Zimet (Sr.) 6-2 3.00 2 1.86

L Jake Muise (Jr.) 6-0 n/a n/a 2.29

Notes: Penn State's stats are from 2002 season. ... Hawaii has won this tournament three times (1996-97, 1999). The Warriors lead the series against the Nittany Lions 9-1. Penn State has played in all of the previous eight Outrigger tournaments but never won a title. ... Ball State (2-0) is making an appearance for the third time (1996, 1998). The Cardinals are 1-5 overall in the tournament and trail the series against the Warriors 4-2. Junior Jary Delgado is a cousin of Hawaii's Jose Delgado. Sophomore Andrew Braley is a Kalaheo alum.

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]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --