Hawaii's Delano Thomas missed this block against BYU during yesterday's MPSF semifinal.

Warriors done
after BYU sweep

Hawaii, the defending national
champion, is out in the MPSF semis

MALIBU, Calif. >> Knowing what it needed to do hurt Hawaii's volleyball team more than it helped.

After Pepperdine swept UC Irvine in the first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinal yesterday, the Warriors knew that beating Brigham Young would get them into next week's final four at Long Beach State. Instead of spurring on the second-ranked Warriors, the knowledge seemed to have the opposite effect.

Third-ranked BYU swept Hawaii 30-28, 37-35, 30-26 before a crowd of 1,507 at Firestone Fieldhouse yesterday. BYU and Pepperdine will meet in tomorrow's MPSF championship.

"From the word go (we struggled)," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. "Our player of the year (Costas Theocharidis) had his worst night. There's no blame on him. They had answers for everything he tried to do.

"They made most of the hustle plays. I think winning Game 2, that great comeback, and letting it get away, that was tough. Who knows what that does for the match?"

Hawaii (24-6) will not get the chance to defend its national championship and will have to look to next year for the elusive MPSF championship. The Warriors played on their heels most of the match, never being the aggressor and couldn't pull away the few times they were ahead. And their own lofty expectations seemed to hold them back.

"Maybe it's the weight of the championship last year. It felt like 90 pounds on our shoulder, each of us," said team captain Eyal Zimet. "Our expectations for ourselves were way beyond."

They surely played like it. Hawaii started slow in each game and had to claw its way back. The Warriors were also hurt by officials' calls that swung the momentum in the Cougars' direction at critical points in the match. In Game 1, Hawaii rallied to within a point at 28-27 when a BYU attacker crossed over the center line.

Top official Marvin Hall awarded the point to the Warriors but later reversed his call when a line judge said the ball was down before Jonathan Alleman landed on Hawaii's side, bringing the Cougars to game point. BYU won two plays later after Hawaii missed a serve.

The Cougars led 22-14 in Game 2 before Hawaii pulled together a 5-0 run to close the gap. The Warriors had game point at 31-30 and thought they had the game won after sophomore Delano Thomas tapped down an overpass. But Thomas was whistled for interfering with the setter. Hawaii had two more game points, the last at 35-34, but could not close, as BYU got kills from three different players to go up 2-0 in the match.

The Warriors led 15-14 in Game 3 but let the Cougars back into the game. BYU scored six of the next eight points to take a 20-17 lead. Hawaii made one last surge and led 22-21, but the Warriors couldn't make the plays as the Cougars closed out the match on a 9-4 run.

In spite of the outcome, BYU coach Tom Peterson still believes the score doesn't reveal the full truth of the match.

"It could have gone either way. I don't know if Hawaii played real good or not, but I would think they didn't play the way they wanted to.

"We were on with some of the things we did. Our diverse attack made it hard to key in on one guy."

The Cougars outhit the Warriors .393 to .264, with every hitter above .300. Setter Carlos Moreno dished a balanced attack with all five hitters in double figures. Outside hitter Rafael Paal unleashed 14 kills. Middle blocker Chris Gorny hit a phenomenal .846 with 11 kills on 13 swings and no errors.

The final statistics will show the Warriors with more aces and blocks than the Cougars, but it was Hawaii that was out of sync offensively and defensively.

"We didn't get too many breaks go our way. Every game, I don't think we ever got into our groove," said Zimet, who finished with 13 kills and an ace.

"We were struggling to get our game together. On the other hand, they ran their offense pretty easily. They made life easier for their setter."

Hawaii didn't.

After the Warriors dug another hole in Game 2, Wilton turned to his bench and brought in Daniel Rasay. The sophomore sparked Hawaii's comeback in the NCAA semifinals last year, but Rasay couldn't get Hawaii over the hump.

"We made lots and lots of mental errors tonight, very uncharacteristic of us," Wilton said. "It just wasn't a great night. It's hard to sub five guys out, and Kimo was struggling a little bit. I wanted him to come off and get a fresh look. Danny played good enough for us to win. We couldn't get out of being our own worst enemy."

In spite of Wilton's assessment, Rasay blamed himself at the end. When the last point landed, tears sprang to his eyes though his career did not end with yesterday's loss.

"It was a big game. We were thinking about it too much," whispered Rasay. "We weren't playing our game. ... They showed up and we didn't. It felt like I let the team down.

"It doesn't matter who's playing. ... We want to win because we're a team. There's four seniors on the team. It's do or die. I feel like I let them down. I could have done something more."

BYU def. Hawaii

30-28, 37-35, 30-26

Warriors (24-6)

g k e att pct. bs ba d

Tuyay 2 0 0 1 .000 0 0 0

Muise 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 8

Zimet 3 11 1 19 .526 0 1 10

Theocharidis 3 13 7 42 .143 0 2 5

Azenha 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Ching 3 16 7 38 .237 0 2 6

Nordberg 3 5 1 6 .667 0 2 2

Thomas 3 4 1 14 .214 1 3 1

Rasay 2 0 0 1 .000 0 0 2

Totals 3 49 17 121 .264 1 10 34

Cougars (21-6)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Patterson 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Burke 3 12 2 21 .476 0 3 0

Moreno 3 2 3 9 -.111 0 0 1

Gorny 3 11 0 13 .846 0 0 4

Mayol 3 11 3 25 .320 1 2 6

Paal 3 14 4 28 .357 0 0 10

Alleman 3 13 3 26 .385 0 1 13

Pessoa 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 11

Slabe 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Totals 3 63 15 122 .393 1 6 45

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.

Aces -- Hawaii (6): Ching 2, Zimet, Theocharidis, Thomas, Rasay. BYU (3): Paal 2, Moreno.

Assists -- Hawaii (47): Rasay 30, Tuyay 17. BYU (58): Moreno 53, Gorny 2, Burke, Mayol, Paal.

T -- 1:45. Officials -- Marvin Hall, John Martin. A -- 1,507.


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