Matt Carere of UH dug up a ball during one of the Warriors' two wins against Ball State last week.

Warriors hoping
to warm up in Provo

The UH volleyball team will try
to avenge last month's loss to No. 6 BYU

Perhaps the recent cold temperatures have been the weather gods' way to help the Hawaii volleyball team prepare for this week's trip to Provo, Utah.

No. 3 Hawaii at No. 6 BYU

When: Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: Both matches live, KKEA (1420-AM)
Series: BYU leads 19-13 overall, 13-3 in Provo

And just in case the third-ranked Warriors (13-4, 9-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) weren't paying attention to the thermometer, the 5-day forecast has been posted on the board during practice this week. Hawaii left last night, expecting snow showers tomorrow and an even chillier reception in Smith Fieldhouse on Friday and Saturday.

The Cougars -- and their fans -- will be waiting. No. 6 BYU (12-6, 7-5) has not played at home since a Feb. 26 victory over UC Irvine.

"It's going to be really loud," UH junior hitter Jose Delgado said. "But I think we are prepared physically and mentally to play there. Winning there will be a huge step for us."

Defending national champion BYU, which has won three of the past six NCAA titles, is always tough at home, helped by a raucous student fan base. Hawaii has not fared well on its trips to Provo, going 3-13, with the last win in 2001.

The Cougars, 16-1 in Smith last year, are 4-2 this season. They also are close to replacing Hawaii as the national attendance leader in average per match, an honor the Warriors have held since the 1995 season.

(Hawaii is currently averaging 4,256 to BYU's 4,191).

Acclimatization for this week is a three-pronged task. Hawaii wants to make adjustments to the weather, to the playing atmosphere and mentally to avenge a loss to the Cougars back on Jan. 7.

"We have gotten way better since then," Delgado said of the loss to BYU in the Outrigger Hotels Invitational. "Our serving and passing are better, our hitters are better, our middles are more consistent."

Added Warrior sophomore middle Dio Dante: "Oh my gosh, we have grown big-time since then. We're working much better as a team. A lot of us are competing hard for starting positions, so that is helping us all get better.

"The last time we played them, it seemed like we got frustrated with each other, but I think we're much closer as a team now. We're sticking together more and hopefully we can keep doing that when times get tough and people try us."

After a mental meltdown against Pepperdine two weeks ago, the Warriors have worked hard at staying cool when officiating hasn't gone their way. It was evident in the matches last week against Ball State when Hawaii remained calm during suspect calls.

"I don't think anyone felt real great about the two losses to Pepperdine," Warrior coach Mike Wilton said. "We were a big part of making that happen. But we have showed composure and they stayed calm (last week).

"We're going up two days early, start serving (in Smith). We want to make sure we get dialed into the environment. But you really can't duplicate that until the actual game happens."

Freshman middle Kyle Klinger, who sat out the Ball State matches, continues to be hobbled with a nagging foot injury. He has practiced the past two days and it will be a game-time decision as to whether he starts.

If not, Dante will again start along with junior Mauli'a LaBarre.

"It's nice to have a stable of three guys in the middle," Wilton said. "And we also have Jake (Schkud) as a backup."

Schkud, who is moving from middle blocker, made his first collegiate start Saturday against the Cardinals as an outside hitter. He didn't last through Game 1, with a kill and two errors in four swings; the Warriors went on to lose 30-23 but won the next three games to take the match.

"Jake's a nice player and I would never put the blame on him," Wilton said. "The rest of the team had problems, too. Hindsight being 20-20, I probably shouldn't have done it, but I felt good about it (starting him)."

Holding at No. 3: The Warriors remained ranked No. 3, but there is a new No. 1 for the first time in two months in the USA Today/CSTV Top 15 poll.

Pepperdine (14-1) received 15 of the 16 first-place votes to move into the top spot. The Waves replaced former No. 1 UCLA after beating the Bruins (18-3) last Saturday.

UCLA received the remaining first-place vote.

There was little movement in the poll, with Nos. 3-7 the same.

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