Sunday, April 15, 2007

#10 UH vs. Stanford: Woohoo!!!


The numbers say it all.

Those are the stats [Courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser] from last night's senior match between the UH Rainbow Warriors and the Stanford Cardinals.

Here's how the Warriors got there: People will say that the turnaround for the Warriors mid-season was the sweep of Cal State Northridge [CSUN]. I say it was the second match against Pepperdine[Pepp] who was and is still #1; the Warriors took the 1st game in a 4-game match loss to Pepp where they were breathing down Pepp's neck during games 3 and 4. It was then that the Warriors resembled the winning team we're used to seeing each year: tenacity, patience, and fun at every moment whether they're up or down.

Then the Warriors began a 6-match win streak all in sweeps (3-game wins) over CSUN, Lewis, and UCSD. The big test would come at the Walter Pyramid, home of the Long Beach 49ers where the then 13th Warriors took the 1st match against 9th LBSU in 5-games, having to win the 5th in extra-play, 19-17 (5th game is win-by-2, 1st to 15). For the 2nd match against LBSU, the Warriors improved by taking down the Beach in 4 games.

Then the Warriors came home to face the Cardinals, being led by the versatile local boy, son of Wahine Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji, the Freshman Kawika Shoji. The Warriors swept the Cardinals on Friday night, 30-22, 30-23, 30-22. The big section of Cardinal fans (a lot of locals out to see Shoji, understandable) weren't as loud as I was expecting them to be, and Shoji didn't bring the A-game that Stanford articles have been talking about. Who did give us trouble was the Card's #5, 6'6" (F) Evan Romero with 17 kills and no service errors.

On to last night's match, senior night for the Rainbow Warriors. I was in attendance with friend JayLee. It was...amazing! The Cardinals did their homework and came back with determination. The entire night was one big noise as 3,000+ fans cheered at practically every play during many long rallies with whole-hearted dives and saves by both teams. Up-official Ernie Ho took a "beating" himself as at least 3 of the Card's errant passes hit him; a dive over the Card bench by (I think it was) #5 Romero almost took out a laptop (being used by one of the asst. coaches); veteran Sportscaster Jim Leahey rescued Card's #11 Brian Lindberg from what could've been a fatal or career-ending dive over PressRow (there's a Senior showing the team how to do it, Kalima can appreciate). That's just from the Cards!

On the Warriors side, Carney brought in his steady serving with 4 in a row to help us on to closing game 1; one was a service ace. He came in for setting duties half-way through game 2 and did an excellent job of running the plays. There's practically no difference between Beckwith and Carney in terms of quality; it'll be exciting to see what Carney does next year. Vanzant got in on the action with 15 kills on the night with great sprinting to chase down the ball and bring it back into play; Dante up-front helped Vanzant from going under the net after a flight from the back row for a kill. Dante himself got 14 kills, 3 of them by being quick to swallow up over-passes by the Cards. Kalima hit a solid .231 and worked hard at the net with 1 solo block and 5 block assists. He even took a ball in the head on a valiant effort to pop-up it up Kalima-style, a scary moment for UH fans as it looked like his head had hit the floor instead of the ball.

Hakala unloaded the cannon on the Cards with 21 kills on the night, 2 aces, while also working his defense skills with 10 digs and 2 blocks. Hakala's mana got out-of-control on a couple long hits and serves, but I believe I heard some sighs of relief by the Cards who didn't want an extra bruising from having to dig another Hakala fireball. Maybe a few Somebodies woke up this morning with black and blue arms, screaming before realizing "oh, that's right, we played Hakala last night" [I'm joking, that's if it had been me, the Cards are tougher than that].

And what about Beckwith? How about giving his team a .356 kill %age, all of them hitting positive, 3 of them in double-digit kills (see Vanzant, Dante, and Hakala above) with Rawson just under at 9 kills. How about across-the-board action with 3 kills, 47 assists, 8 digs, 6 block assists and a tough jump-serve. How about chasing down a ball and bringing it back into play from outside the antenna for a Rawson kill to end game 1. And, with senior-night greed which he admitted to later, he closed out the match with a no-look dump-shot to remind everyone that not only does he put the ball up, he can knock it down too.

[to be continued]