Saturday, February 16, 2008

50/50 at the Stan Sheriff

Rematch last night, #15 UH defending home turf against #5 UCLA. Starting lineups: UCLA: O’Malley, Muagututia, Edwards, Stromath, Diefenbach, Hastings, Wade. UH: Clar, Walker, Schkud, Grgas, Rawson, Cervantes, and Carney.

UH started off strong, continuing the solid play from the night before while UCLA had an early back row attack violation and a couple of service errors. It looked like it might be a repeat of the previous night but it didn’t take long for UCLA to gain their bearings and take control of their game. By the half of game 1, UCLA led 13-15 [btw, I tend to say UH’s score first to keep some kind of consistency]. UH would bring the score back to a tie and trade off points until UCLA pulled ahead again at 26-28. UH tied it up at 28-all when the 6’4 Schkud blocked an attack by the 6’9 O’Malley. UCLA stayed in control and won game 1, 28-30.

Game 2 was more of the same. Great plays by both teams, a lot of trading off points for the tie, with UCLA leading at the half, 13-15. Dyer came in for Walker. At 14-16, Schkud got in an ace. 18-21 and Hutchins comes in for Clar, so there were two starters, two Warrior leading attackers off the court. Walker doesn’t come back in until 23-27. Game 2 went to UCLA on a Hutchins hit that went long, 24-30.

Game 3, more of the same. Frank started for Rawson, Clar came back in. UCLA took the lead early on, 6-10, but the ball was back in the Warriors’ hands and Clar brought them within 1 at 10-11 with an ace. Yet again, UCLA kept cool and led 13-15 at the half. UCLA, 25-29, Stromath serves up the ball and Clar kills it, 26-29. UH is still battling. On a Diefenbach kill, UCLA sweeps 26-30.

The difference between the first match and the second? Errors, UCLA made less errors. Service errors were about even, UH out-blocked UCLA the first night but UCLA evened up that stat the second night, digs about even. UCLA got more kills off of their attacks. Hastings, just a freshman right off filling in for Senior Captain Tony Ker who is a fine libero, added more stability to UCLA’s passing game. Hastings still has a lot to learn and fix to be as good as Ker, but he definitely improved from night one. Diefenbach, one of their tallest guys with a powerful arm, had been stalled by the UH block on night one, but had a more productive night two, 11 kills, no errors, hitting over 700 on the night. UCLA came back smoother and playing more like UCLA. UH, while still playing very well and never panicked, just didn’t pull it out for the second night against an experienced and resilient UCLA team.

[Quick stats by Honolulu Advertiser].And Al Scates gets his 50th win against the volleyball team of the University of the 50th state, hence, the title of this entry. I try to be clever with the titles but I know, I’m still working on it. UH also had about a 50/50 chance of winning.

Still, the Warriors have a chance to take it all this season, they always have a chance whether one’s as biased as I am or not. That they won the first night with only one full substitution, Rawson for Frank, and kept UCLA off-kilter shows a lot of tenacity and stamina for this young team. On the first night, Cervantes was the only returning starter from last season in the lineup.

So, I was rooting on the Warriors and will continue to do so. That the Warriors are playing well now and looks to have a solid starting lineup at this point in the season is a good sign. And didn’t I say at the end of last season that we haven’t seen all that Schkud could do? Well, he’s showing us now and leading this team to shine. Cervantes, Clar, Schkud, Carney, Grgas, Rawson, Walker all had a good match one or both nights against UCLA.

And on the side, they showed the scores of some of the other games from that night. UCI versus BYU, one had to know that it was going to be a good match up. BYU is sitting pretty at the top of the polls with an undefeated season going so far. UCI at a good #6, the defending champions with returning starters in Asuka, Harrell, I think Simpson and Wilson played last year too. UCI also has the two younger brothers of former starter Paul Spittle; if that’s any indication of their skills then they must be really good. Anyways, check out these scores, UCI [home team] first: 28-30, 34-32, 22-30, 30-28, 26-28. Did you miss it? First off, they traded off games, UCI won games 2 and 4, game 2 in extra play. But more spectacular, I imagine, was game 5, 26-28. GAME 5 is first to FIFTEEN. UCI held BYU back enough to take it to an almost-full, extra play fifth game.

Kinda like the complete extra play nail-biter between UH and Santa Barbara the other week.

Yes, I missed the alumni game of last week. What’s up with that? Well, representing the alumni, according to the UH website, were Jake Muise (’04), Shaun Frederick (’03), Kai Kahele (’97), Chris Kosty (’99), Mason Kuo (current assistant coach, ’99), Mauli‘a La Barre (’06), Sivan Leoni (’98), Kimo Tuyay (’04), and Ryan Woodward (’04). I should’ve gone; Leoni alone guarantees a good show! I wonder what Brenton Davis is doing, did he play last year’s alumni game? I wonder if they’ll get Podlewski in an alumni game.

Okay. So that’s the Rainbow Warrior Volleyball update.

Mahalo for reading in!