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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Hawai'i 5-0 is team's goal as it prepares for playoffs

 •  League spikes UH appeal of playoff seeding

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

It was a time to return to the drawing board, and on theirs, the members of the University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team yesterday found inspirational messages written in dark green ink from their head coach.

UH coach Mike Wilton knows that to make the NCAA final four his team will likely have to beat BYU, something it failed to do this past weekend.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

"We're focusing on the silver linings," UH coach Mike Wilton said before yesterday's informal practice, the Warriors' first since losing two crucial matches at Brigham Young last weekend.

The sweep dropped the Warriors to the fourth seed for this weekend's start of the eight-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs. They will play host to No. 5 seed Southern California in the Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday night. First serve is at 7:08.

"I'm unhappy about being fourth," middle blocker Dejan Miladinovic said. "I'm also unhappy about losing to BYU both nights."

For the Warriors, their path has narrowed to the NCAA final four. With BYU all but guaranteed a berth in the final four, the Warriors likely will have to win the MPSF tournament to qualify for the NCAA championships in Long Beach, Calif. (The other two berths are reserved for conference champions.) If UH should beat USC, it probably will face BYU in the semifinals in Provo, Utah.

"The road to Long Beach goes through I-15 in Provo," Wilton said.

UH outside hitter Tony Ching said it "would have been nice to be (seeded) No. 2, so we can save BYU for (the MPSF championship match), but it's all right. If (the Cougars are) going to get in the way of a national title, we'll have to play them sometime."

UH outside hitter Costas Theocharidis said the seeding "doesn't bother me. We have to get over it. We'll forget about it. I think we're already over it."

Last month, in the only meeting between the teams, UH beat USC in four games in the Stan Sheriff Center. Ching did not play in that match because of a deep gash suffered in a mo-ped accident. This time, the Trojans probably will be without senior outside hitter Eli Fairfield, who reportedly quit the team. But Wilton said the Warriors will prepare as if Fairfield will play.

"From now on, it's all business," Ching said. "We can't lose. If we win five (matches), we're national champions. Hopefully, we can go out and win."