By Stephen Tsai
In a declaration of independence from its glorious past, the University of Hawaii mens volleyball team broke away to a 30-27, 30-19, 30-15 victory over a celebrated alumni team last night in the Stan Sheriff Center.
|Brenton Davis winds up for a spike against a UH alumni all-star team. The 2001 Warriors swept the alumni, 30-27, 30-19, 30-15.
Cory Lum The Honolulu Advertiser
A playful crowd of 2,722, many shrieking with the announcement of each alumnus name, watched the Warriors win their final tune-up before Wednesdays season opener against Lewis.
"It sure was fun," said UH coach Mike Wilton, displaying a rare post-match grin.
The Warriors were undeterred by the new rules, which called for point-a-play rally scoring in every game and allowed into play any serve that cleared the net, including ones that struck the nylon first.
Instead of cautiously trying to place serves, the Warriors ripped away, launching lasers off of jump moves. In scrambling to cover the serves, the alumni repeatedly struggled to start their offense.
"The truth is, the serve is one of our best weapons," UH outside hitter Costas Theocharidis said. "The (new rule) is a great advantage for us. If we have a good serve, even if it touches the net, you can get points. We did a good job of serving."
Said alumnus Jason Ring: "You would think they would be more tentative with their serves. But its just the opposite. If you can hit the top of the tape, and you hit it as hard as you can, with a real flat trajectory, you can create problems."
In the first game, the only problems the Warriors faced were their own jitters. This was their first match since mid-November, and it came against a Whos Who of UH volleyball: Ring, Sivan Leoni, Erik Pichel, Aaron Wilton, Rick Tune, Clay Stanley and Russell Lockwood.
"We had to get over the nervousness," Theocharidis said.
But, as it turned out, the Rainbows - the alumni went by UHs former nickname - were no match for the quicker and more unified Warriors. The Warriors practiced 13 hours over four days this week; the Rainbows met twice informally.
Even with newcomers at two key positions - 18-year-old Kimo Tuyay started at setter and Vernon Podlewski, who joined the team Monday, opened at libero - the Warriors passed efficiently.
They hit even better, with 6-foot-5 Torry Tukuafu (14 kills), the 6-3 Theocharidis (seven kills) and 6-2 Tony Ching (three kills in three swings in the third game) providing the thunder from outside.
Dejan Miladinovic, who spent last season rehabilitating a shoulder injury, was an aggressive force in the middle. He had 10 kills and four blocks.
"They looked good," Tune said. "If they keep progressing every day, they should be able to compete with the best of them."
Indeed, with the Rainbows best on the court in the third game, the Warriors were nearly unstoppable, scoring eight of the final nine points. Two points came on aces.
Ring said he had not seen such effective serving since his 1996 UH team, which reached the NCAA championship match.
"Thats how we were successful," Ring said. "If they serve like that, they should do really well. I was training with a few other teams earlier in the season, and nobody serves like they do."
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