Saturday, January 27, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 27, 2001

Eight is enough for UH volleyball

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Know those movie trailers that give away the whole plot?

To a lesser degree, glimpses of recent matches reveal the storyline of the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team.

Except for the imminent eligibility of middle blocker Geronimo Chala and injuries, the Warriors’ playing rotation will remain the same for the rest of the season.

"We’re pretty set," said UH coach Mike Wilton, whose team plays host to Pacific tonight in the Stan Sheriff Center.

In constructing a 4-1 record, the Warriors have gone with a regular lineup of setter Kimo Tuyay, outside hitters Costas Theocharidis and Eyal Zimet and opposite Torry Tukuafu. Libero alternates with middle blockers Brenton Davis and Dejan Miladinovic.

The top reserve is Tony Ching, who can play all three outside positions, as well as serve as a second defensive specialist.

Kyle Denitz has been spotted as a designated server, but for the most part, Wilton will rarely play more than eight. That means that any changes will be internal.

Still, Wilton said, the Warriors are not in need of any major improvements. Their serving is one of the best in the country, and their middle has stood up to Lewis, Penn State, UCLA and Pacific.

What’s more, the Warriors managed to outscore UCLA, 139-138, in a five-game loss last week — volleyball’s equivalent of winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College.

Wilton said the Warriors need to work on recognizing tips and defending middle sets from the back row known as "pipe attacks."

But those are relatively minor tweakings that could be cleaned up with strong practices. The trouble is, the Warriors have not had a full practice this year. Injuries and a flu epidemic have hurt participation.

"We haven’t strung together two good practices in a row," Wilton said. "I think a good, snappy one will be helpful."

Finding a permanent role for Ching also will help. Ching is most comfortable on the left side, where Theocharidis and Zimet are aligned. While Ching, who has a 39-inch vertical leap and a hammer swing, is a scoring threat, he still is only an adequate passer. Once he improves in that area — the left hitter is considered a secondary passer -he could spell Theocharidis or Zimet.

"We want (Ching) to show the same zeal for passing as he does for hitting and blocking," Wilton said.

For now, Wilton said, the Warriors are on track to meet their goals for a strong postseason seeding. A better assessment will come after their first road match in two weeks.

Until then, Wilton said, "there are many challenges ahead."

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