UH back in MPSF after pair of sweeps


POSTED: Sunday, March 22, 2009

With winning comes the fun. And there was no mistaking the joy on Hawaii's side of the volleyball court last night.

It didn't matter that the match was a bit sloppy. Beauty was in the eyes of the beholders.

And after 100 minutes, the Warriors (6-13) were holding their first two-match win streak of the season. In another AYSO-type outing, where all 11 players in uniform saw the Stan Sheriff Court, Hawaii downed New Jersey Tech 30-23, 30-19, 30-23.

All Warriors attackers who played at least two sets had at least six kills, the balance topped by the 10-kill night from both Joshua Walker and Brennon Dyer. UH's middles were very productive against the Highlanders (3-16), with Steven Grgas and Jarrod Lofy combining for 15 kills.

Getting the most unique perspective was UH senior Mike China, who played libero for two sets then moved to outside hitter for the third. He finished with career highs in digs (seven) and kills (four), hitting .600.

“;We definitely needed these two (wins),”; China said. “;It was good for everyone to have a chance to play and we came together as a team. Everyone had fun and that's what we needed to bring back, just going out and enjoying it.”;

At least for a day. Tomorrow, Hawaii goes back to work at trying to win its first road match of the season. The Warriors, 0-6 in away contests, travel for matches Thursday and Friday at UC Irvine, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation co-leader.

New Jersey Tech has a tougher uphill climb. Winless in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, the Highlanders are trying to snap a 15-match skid, one where they've lost six in a row in straight sets and 11 of 12.

NJIT also hasn't played at home since Feb. 21. Despite the drought, the Highlanders - with five players from foreign countries - applauded the crowd a la international protocol.

“;It felt like coming home,”; NJIT senior middle Robert Thomas, who is from Trinidad. “;We appreciated the crowd, they were great, and we enjoyed ourselves the whole time we were here.

“;We are a little banged up, been on the road a long time and it's killing us. But we're doing our best. We have a lot of heart. We just couldn't put a ball away.”;

Raphael Mattos had 10 kills for NJIT, which hit .165 for the match.

The Highlanders found success early in Set 1. As often happens on the second night of a series, the losing team from night one comes back strong.

New Jersey Tech did that, rolling out to a 9-5 lead, helped by several unforced Hawaii errors. The Warriors got out of negative hitting percentage and got into a rhythm, catching the Highlanders at 13.

It was again tied at 14 and then it was over, with Grgas' 4-0 serving run putting Hawaii in the lead for good. Dyer had four kills during a spurt that had the Warriors ahead at 28-21 and Sean Carney's third kill finished it off.

Set 2 was tight until 10-10. Walker served for four points to take the lead for good and Dyer served for another six for a 27-16 margin.

Nejc Zemljak's ace in Set 3 had the Warriors up 11-6 and the Highlanders never got their offense on track, unable to get closer than four.

The end was anticlimactic but memorable. Tech's Charles Bell (Kahuku '06) sailed aloha ball nearly into the stands.

“;This gives us a good perspective,”; Zemljak said. “;It doesn't matter what the opponent does, we have to play our game. We did what we needed to do and we corrected our mistakes quickly.”;

MPSF standings

Pepperdine122.857  14-2
UC Irvine122.857  17-3
CSU Northridge123.800 1/219-3
USC95.643 313-6
BYU95.643 313-8
Stanford76.538 41/214-8
Long Beach State78.467 510-10
UC San Diego69.400 61/28-11
UCLA59.357 710-10
Hawaii311.214 96-13
UC Santa Barbara312.200 91/26-13
Pacific013.000 121/23-19

def. NJIT 30-23, 30-19, 30-23
BYU def. Long Beach State, 30-18, 29-31, 30-24, 33-35, 15-13
CSU Northridge def. Hope International, 30-16, 30-17, 30-23
Cal Baptist def. Stanford 30-27, 30-26, 30-28

Hawaii def. NJIT

30-23, 30-19, 30-23

Highlanders (3-16)


Warriors (6-13)







Key - g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills + blocks + aces)

Aces - Hawaii(7): Walker 2, Zemljak 2, Grgas, Dyer, Strotman. Assists - NJIT (30): Correa 26, Bell 3, Sylvester. Hawaii (51): Zemljak 44, Carney 3, Grgas, Clar, Strotman, China.

T - 1:40. Officials - Ernest Ho, Dickson Chun. A - 2,351.