UH men's volleyball ranked No. 5 in first poll
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The first USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association poll of the men's volleyball season proved not to be a popularity contest.
"Who cares?" University of Hawai'i outside hitter Costas Theocharidis said of the Warriors' No. 5 ranking.
UH middle blocker Dejan Miladinovic echoed that response, saying, "I don't really care. It's early in the season. The only thing I care about is the final ranking. That's it. We're trying to play the best we can, and that's all that matters."
The Warriors (1-1) will have a chance to influence voters when they play host to the three-night Outrigger Hotels Invitational.
The tournament, which begins tomorrow night at the Stan Sheriff Center, features top-ranked Penn State (1-0), No. 2 UCLA (2-1) and No. 11 Lewis (of Illinois).
"The best teams are coming," Miladinovic said. "It's going to be spectacular. It's going to be a big test for us. This is going to be like the (NCAA) final four. We're going to have teams from every conference in the country."
UH plays Penn State tomorrow, Lewis Friday and UCLA Saturday. The first matches are at 4:30 p.m. The UH matches will start no earlier than 7 p.m.
UCLA has won five of the seven Outrigger tournaments. UH defeated UCLA once in seven attempts, in 1996, and lost in five games last year.
Penn State's home court is the site of this year's final four. In November, UH and Penn State split a two-match exhibition series at University Park, Pa.
"I put Penn State No. 1," said UH coach Mike Wilton, one of 15 head coaches who vote in the poll. "I thought they were pretty good when we went back there and played them. It's almost a lock they'll be in the final four."
Wilton said he gave UH a fifth-place vote, largely because of last week's four-game loss to Loyola-Chicago in the season opener. The Warriors won the rematch in three games the following night.
"Coming out of the blocks and stumbling didn't help us at all," Wilton said.
But Wilton said it is too early to determine a team's skill level.
"At this stage, who knows what kind of an indication the poll is," Wilton said. "Polls start getting meaningful after about a month. By early February, they should be pretty indicative."
Theocharidis recalled the Warriors were ranked sixth in the first poll last year.
"We ended up being first for a couple of weeks," he said. "It might be the same thing this year. This tournament is huge for us. If we play well, hopefully we're going to be ranked higher next week."