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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

China to replace UCLA in volleyball tournament

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team's top rival and draw — UCLA — will not compete in next year's Outrigger Hotels Invitational in the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Bruins have appeared in each of the eight Outrigger tournaments, winning the title seven times.

In previous years, UH and UCLA were joined by teams from the East and Midwest in the four-school tournament. While Penn State and Ball State (of Indiana) — both semifinalists in this year's NCAA Championships — reached tentative agreements to play in next year's tournament, UH coach Mike Wilton decided to give the final berth to an amateur team from Beijing.

Inviting a team from China would help fulfill UH president Evan Dobelle's goal of expanding the school's reach throughout Asia, Wilton said.

"I think it's a great idea," Wilton said, adding that China has long been a strong force in international volleyball competition.

Wilton said he eventually would like to recruit in China.

Wilton said UCLA was the easiest team to drop because the teams are scheduled to meet twice in Los Angeles during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's regular season. Wilton said he did not know if UCLA received a recruiting advantage by playing in the tournament every year, but that did not factor in his decision.

"We wanted to bring in an international team while still inviting teams from the East and Midwest," Wilton said.

Wilton said he will check with the UH men's and women's basketball teams before finalizing dates for the Outrigger Tournament. He said he would prefer to play two matches, perhaps against Lewis University, leading into the tournament.

UC San Diego coach Ron Larsen has crafted an MPSF schedule that league members are expected to adopt. According to the schedule, UH will play home matches against Stanford, Cal State-Northridge, Pacific, UC Santa Barbara, Southern California and Pepperdine. The road matches are at UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Brigham Young, UCLA and UC San Diego.

Unlike the recent season, when the Warriors took three road trips to play eight matches in March, there will be no more than two trips each month, with the longest scheduled for three matches.

Meanwhile, the Warriors still are awaiting a decision from 6-foot-10 Josh Stanhiser, a member of last year's UH basketball team, on an offer to play volleyball.

Stanhiser received an academic scholarship that paid for his tuition this year. The UH volleyball team, which is limited to offering the financial equivalent of 4.5 scholarships, has offered Stanhiser money for room, board and meals.

Stanhiser practiced with the Warriors for three weeks following the basketball season. For one of those weeks, he was the leading scorer in practice.

Eyal Faival, a 6-3 setter in the Israeli Army, is expected to delay enrolling at UH until the 2003 fall semester, when the Warriors will have more scholarship money available. UH will have five seniors on next year's team.

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