Friday, January 19, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 19, 2001

UH sweeps Laval, plays UCLA for Outrigger title

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The basics of preschool — sharing, communicating, playing with blocks — were essential ingredients in Hawaii’s 30-27, 30-22, 30-18 men’s volleyball victory over Laval of Quebec last night in the Stan Sheriff Center.

A crowd of 3,116 watched the Warriors ease through their tune-up before tonight’s final match against UCLA in the round-robin Outrigger Hotels Invitational.

Earlier yesterday, UCLA, an 18-time NCAA champion, beat Penn State, 30-27, 30-28, 24-30, 19-30, 15-5.

UH played without All-America outside hitter Costas Theocharidis, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his right elbow, biceps and shoulder.

"Just resting," Theocharidis said of sitting out the exhibition, which does not count in the NCAA standings. The match "was meaningless."

The Warriors turned to 6-foot-2 sophomore Tony Ching, who was recruited by only UH as a Kamehameha Schools senior.

Playing with the hellish ferocity of a prospect scorned, Ching amassed 10 kills, four aces, seven digs and four block assists. He played all three outside positions and, at times, served as a second defensive specialist.

"He played really well," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "He’s our utility player. He can play anywhere. And he brings so much energy."

Said Ching: "I’m grateful for any chance to be on the court. Every time I go out there, I want to play as hard as I can. I want to show the other schools what I can do."

As a prospect, the knock on Ching was his height. But Ching, who has a 39-inch vertical leap, repeatedly attacked double blocks with thunderous swings.

"Tony has so much power," middle blocker Brenton Davis said. "And he fits right in. He brings a lot to the team."

The Warriors played cohesively, accumulating floor burns with no-fear dives, passing accurately and spreading the wealth. Freshman Kimo Tuyay fed his teammates with quick and back sets; Davis and Dejan Miladinovic again dominated the middle, and Torry Tukuafu (11 kills) contributed outside power.

After Laval extended UCLA to five games on Wednesday, coach Pascal Clement expected a strong performance last night.

But in the afternoon practice, middle blocker Mathieu Lagrandeur suffered a sprained neck when he turned his head too quickly. Then during warmups, Lagrandeur leaned the wrong way and sustained a pulled left hamstring. He did not play against UH, and his availability is questionable for tonight’s match against Penn State.

Without their best middle, Laval collapsed.

"It was like a . .. ," said Clement, landing a right punch to his left palm.

A crash?

"Yes, yes," he said. "It was like an airplane crash. This was totally unacceptable."

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