Warriors look to
rebound at Long Beach

By Grace Wen

Normally only setter Kimo Tuyay and libero Matt Motter wear headbands in matches, but the entire Warriors' volleyball team had an identical look on their foreheads in last Saturday's blowout loss to top-ranked UC Irvine -- clueless.

The Warriors don't have time to dwell on the defeat as they continue their 11-day road trip.

No. 2 Hawaii (6-2, 2-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) needs to recover and redeem itself against No. 5 Long Beach State (7-3, 3-2) tomorrow and Friday at 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

Warriors coach Mike Wilton said Hawaii practiced well yesterday, which could bode well for the matches.

"We got some things done," he said. "We got to do a lot of serving and passing. We got to play some defense and some challenge games. Then it was time to leave because badminton was coming in."

Hawaii needs every good practice it can get. The Warriors have never had an easy time with the 49ers as the series record (Long Beach leads 26-24) indicates. Long Beach has won seven of the last 12 meetings, though Hawaii ousted the 49ers from the MPSF playoffs last year.

"They're a good team and they especially like to play Hawaii," Wilton said. "It's certainly a match to get fired up for. They've got a new freshman setter and he's doing a good job. They have the same two left-side hitters with expanded passing roles. They have a new libero. They're a little different but they have returning guys starting."

The 49ers have almost the same personnel as last year with four returning starters. Junior outside hitters Scott Touzinsky and Jeff Wootton are three-year starters and leaders of a squad dominated by underclassmen.

Their experience has eased the transition for freshmen Tyler Hildebrand and Duncan Budinger. Hildebrand should stabilize the setting spot, which alternated between two setters much of last season. The 6-foot-8 Budinger is an emerging force in the middle and a sizeable counterpart to junior David Lee.

Hawaii's lineup, however, has the same questions as it did last week. Wilton said he won't know who the starters are until the end of practice today or prior to the start of the match tomorrow. The Warriors have question marks at opposite and libero.

Senior Eyal Zimet has been bothered by lower back spasms. Wilton had been hesitant to pull Zimet in the past because of the senior's calming influence on the court.

But Zimet was uncharacteristically shaky on Saturday, which opened the way for freshman Pedro Azenha. The 6-5 rookie came off the bench to spark Hawaii. Azenha has answered the call each time and could play his way into a permanent starting role.

"I have to know if Eyal (Zimet) can go strong day after day," Wilton said. "I'm not interested in a part-time deal at all. So we'll see how he practices. That's one real key factor right there."

At libero, there are no definitive answers either. Motter played well the first night against UCI but struggled the second day. If the Warriors hadn't run out of substitutions on Saturday, junior transfer Arri Jeschke could have seen some playing time.

Notes: Zimet and senior Costas Theocharidis returned to Hawaii to avoid missing extra days of class. They rejoin the Warriors today after a red-eye flight. Both matches against the 49ers will be broadcast live on 1420-AM with Scott Robbs. ... The Pyramid is the site of the 2003 final four in May.

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings

MPSF Overall

Team W L Pct. W L Pct.

Pepperdine 5 0 1.000 7 1 .875

Brigham Young 5 1 .833 5 1 .833

UC-Irvine 4 1 .800 11 1 .917

Pacific 3 1 .750 6 4 .600

Long Beach State 3 2 .600 7 3 .700

Hawaii 2 2 .500 6 2 .750

Stanford 3 3 .500 5 5 .500

CS-Northridge 2 3 .400 6 4 .600

UCLA 1 4 .200 4 5 .444

UC-Santa Barbara 1 4 .200 3 7 .300

USC 1 4 .200 2 6 .250

UC-San Diego 0 5 .000 3 6 .333


UC Irvine at UC Santa Barbara

USC at La Verne (nonconference)


CS Northridge at UCLA

Hawaii at Long Beach State

UH Athletics

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