UCLA breaks Warriors' hearts in 5


POSTED: Friday, April 03, 2009

Even before last night's match at Pauley Pavilion, the Hawaii volleyball team knew it needed a miracle to make it into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs.
























        NEXT UP

        at UCLA today


The Warriors' prayers were not answered.

Hawaii got a career-high 28 kills from freshman Steven Hunt, but it was not enough as UCLA continued its mastery of the Warriors. The Bruins won the 70th meeting between the two, getting 17 kills from freshman middle Thomas Amberg and 16 from freshman opposite Jack Polales in a 30-27, 30-22, 24-30, 25-30, 15-13 victory.

The win lifted UCLA (11-13, 7-10) into a tie for seventh place in the MPSF and—for the moment—into a playoff berth. The Warriors (6-16, 3-14) remained both in 11th place and winless on the road (0-9).

“;It is disappointing,”; Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said after the contest that lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes. “;It's been a real pattern for us on the road, getting behind early, not enough at the end.

“;I don't want to contemplate where we are in the standings. We just want to have a good, consistent match tomorrow.”;

The teams meet again today (4 p.m. Hawaii time).

It took nearly three sets before Hawaii found a lineup that could sustain some momentum. There were wholesale changes midway through the match, with all 14 Warriors who made the trip seeing the court, including senior Mike China replacing junior Ric Cervantes at libero in Set 3.

Also involved in the revolving door that changed the momentum were sophomore hitters Joshua Walker (10 kills), junior hitter Joe Strotman (eight) and Jarrod Lofy (four kills, four blocks).

Hunt, though, was the steadiest throughout, playing in his first match since breaking his hand Feb. 13. He hit .512, with seven coming in Set 4.

Sophomore setter Nejc Zemljak's improbable serving run in Set 4 had the Bruins reeling. The Warriors trailed 20-16, but scored nine straight on Zemljak's run to take the lead for good at 25-20.

The Warriors were poised to finish off the unlikely comeback, taking an 8-6 lead when the teams switched sides in Set 5. The Bruins took the momentum with them, going on a 6-1 run behind the serves of Garrett Muagututia.

Kills by Lofy and Hunt, and Hunt's block of Polales tied it at 12. A service error by Zemljak put the Bruins ahead 13-12, but Hunt tied it back up with his final kill.

UCLA ended it with Sean O'Malley's 14th kill and a stuff of Walker. The Bruins hold a 51-19 edge in the series.

“;Hawaii always mixes it up,”; UCLA coach Al Scates said in a postmatch radio interview. “;We're going to have to slow Hunt down. Hawaii always plays better the second night.”;

Wilton hopes so.

“;The smaller guys had a hard time against their block,”; he said. “;They need to be hitting high and with range.

“;Walker's leash was short. He struggled, but played himself out of it. Strotman and Lofy gave us good lifts and I can't say enough about Mikey China—he passed very well, had nine digs when coming in for Ric.”;

As has happened this season, the Warriors have had trouble finishing games. It caught up with them in Set 5.

“;We got off to a pretty good start and then got a little tentative,”; Wilton said. “;We missed fewer serves (12 to UCLA's 23), but we missed the ones that mattered.”;

UCLA def. Hawaii

30-27, 30-22, 24-30, 25-30, 15-13

Warriors (6-16, 3-14)
Bruins (11-13, 7-10) 

Key—s: sets played; 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 (4): Strotman 2, zemljak, Lofy. UCLA (1): Vogel. Assists—Hawaii (65): Zemljak 63, Cervantes, China. UCLA (75): Ker 68, Hastings 2, Wade 2, O'Malley, Muagututia, Polales.
T—2:15. Officials—Marvin Hall, Lydia Godshall. A—629.

MPSF standings

x-Pepperdine152.882 17-2
x-UC Irvine143.875 119-4
x-CSU Northridge135.823 2 1/220-5
x-USC125.705 316-6
BYU116.647 415-9
Stanford106.625 4 1/217-8
Long Beach State710.412 810-12
UCLA710.412 811-13
UC San Diego611.353 910-12
UC Santa Barbara414.222 11 1/28-15
Hawaii314.176 126-16
Pacific016.000 14 1/23-22

x-clinched MPSF playoff spot

Stanford def. Pacific, 30-22, 30-23, 30-18
Pepperdine def. CSU Northridge, 30-28, 31-29, 28-30, 35-37, 15-12
USC def. UC Santa Barbara, 26-30, 33-31, 26-30, 30-23, 15-8
UCLA def. Hawaii, 30-27, 30-22, 24-30, 25-30, 15-13
BYU def. UC Irvine, 30-24, 20-30, 30-18, 30-28
Hawaii at UCLA, 4 p.m. Hawaii time
UC Irvine at BYU
USC at CSU Northridge
Stanfor at Long Beach State
Pacific at UC San Diego
Pepperdine at UC Santa Barbara
Stanford at UC San Diego
Pacific at Long Beach State