By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
In a mens volleyball match in which Pacific was no match last night, Hawaii cruised to a 30-28, 30-25, 30-25 victory before a mostly restless crowd of 3,601 in the Stan Sheriff Center.
"It was boring," UH outside hitter Costas Theocharidis said of the Warriors second sweep of Pacific in three nights.
None of the six games lasted longer than a sitcom.
"We didnt, like, pay the price," said Theocharidis, who led the way with 13 kills. "We played well and killed them. We had that feeling like we were going to have a nice evening."
In improving to 5-1 overall this match, unlike Thursday nights between the same two teams, did not count in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings the Warriors turned to a strategy as old as combat: Punish the middle and the body crumbles.
The 12th-ranked Tigers (2-3) could not counter the Warriors middle block of Dejan Miladinovic and Brenton Davis.
The Tigers were left scrambling first from an illness to middle blocker Sean Rodgers that forced lineup changes, then from the Warriors menacing serves.
Rodgers, the Tigers best middle, did not play because of a viral infection. The Tigers moved Geir Eithun to right hitter and used outside hitters Tim Gerlach and Dan Hoefer in the middle.
Miladinovic short-circuited the Tigers strategy by dominating at the net. Gerlach, who had not played in the middle in two years, had two kills and hit .000. Even that was better than Hoefers minus-.125 hitting percentage.
Whats more, UHs powerful serves led to sloppy Pacific passing, which led to slow sets. That gave Miladinovic enough time to read the setter and position himself for blocks. Nearly every Pacific hit was blocked or tipped. The Tigers hit .034 in the second game and .222 in the third.
The Tigers, who had let out celebratory yells after early kills, muttered in Miladinovics direction as the match advanced moans that, in effect, were like talking to a wall. Miladinovic had five blocks and intimidated the Tigers into several hitting errors.
"Dejan had a very good night," Pacific coach Joe Wortmann conceded.
On offense, UH setter Kimo Tuyay fed Miladinovic with high, quick sets that seemed to scream: "Hit me!"
The sets "were really, really nice," said Miladinovic, who had 11 kills (in 16 swings) and hit .563.
"Dejan is a good attacker," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "He was getting the quick, high sets that he likes, and (the Tigers) couldnt touch him. They touched a few, but he was having his way with them."
Davis also played well in spurts, but he lacked consistency after missing recent practices. Davis is recovering from the flu.
Once Davis returns to form, the Warriors should have what many consider to be one of the best middles in the country.
"We just need to have more complete practices," Wilton said.
The seventh-ranked Warriors will play host to No. 2 Santa Barbara in two matches next week in the Sheriff Center.
Hawaii Mens Volleyball
January: Wednesday-UC SANTA BARBARA*, 7 p.m.
February: Friday-UC SANTA BARBARA*, 7 p.m. 8-CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE*, 7 p.m. 10-CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE*, 7 p.m. 13-at UC San Diego*. 15-at Long Beach State*.
March: 2-STANFORD*, 7 p.m. 3-STANFORD*, 7 p.m. 9-PEPPERDINE*, 7 p.m. 10-PEPPERDINE*, 7 p.m. 16-SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA*, 7 p.m. 17-CALIFORNIA**, 7 p.m. 23-ARIZONA**, 7 p.m. 24-ARIZONA**, 7 p.m. 28-at UC Irvine*. 29-at UCLA*. 30-at UCLA*. 31-at UC Irvine.
April: 6-ALBERTA**, 7 p.m. 7-ALBERTA**, 7 p.m. 13-at Brigham Young*. 14-at Brigham Young*. 21, 26, 28-MPSF Playoffs.
May: 3, 5-NCAA semifinals, championship at Long Beach, Calif.
Home matches (in caps) at the Stan Sheriff Center
*Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match
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