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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

UH volleyball facing must-win matches against BYU

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team is scheduled to leave this morning for its final regular-season road trip, and its collective hope is this will be a good Friday and an even better Saturday.

"It's pretty much a must-win situation," middle blocker Brenton Davis said of the two matches against Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.

UH and BYU are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and each has a 12-3 record in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

The Warriors need to sweep to clinch home-court advantage throughout the MPSF playoffs and, most likely, to earn a berth in the NCAA final four.

BYU has the tie-breaker edge, meaning even a split will give it the advantage throughout the MPSF playoffs. The highest remaining seed will serve as host for the MPSF semifinals and championship match.

"It is, for sure, the biggest (series) of the season," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "It's the biggest regular-season match in quite a while. I couldn't tell you when we've had one as big. There's a lot at stake."

The Warriors could split the two matches and retain the No. 1 ranking, which would be ammunition for receiving the lone at-large berth in the final four. But, Wilton said, that would pale to not having the "No. 1 seed in the MPSF playoffs, and that's the most important thing right now."

Outside hitters Costas Theocharidis (tendinitis in left knee) and Eyal Zimet (stress fracture in his left shin) did not play in last weekend's exhibitions against Alberta. But both said they will be ready to start against the Cougars.

"Even if we're injured, we'll play," Theocharidis said. "It's a huge match. We're going to give everything we have on the court."

Wilton said one of the Warriors' biggest concerns is the crowd noise in the 6,000-seat Smith Field House. Wilton had compared it to a jet taking off.

"The gym really resonates," said opposite hitter Torry Tukuafu, who played for BYU as a freshman. "When they pack it, the fans are like sardines. It's extra loud. Here, (in the 10,000-seat Stan Sheriff Center) the noise is really spread out. There, it's like fitting 20,000 people into this arena."

Wilton recorded the crowd noise of UH's last match in Provo two years ago, and said he might play the soundtrack during this week's practices in Smith. Before yesterday's two-hour practice at the Sheriff Center, he played a videotape of a Cougar home match.

"You can see the people going nuts," Wilton said. "I think the picture will speak a thousand words to our players."