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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 6, 2004

Warriors spiked again

Advertiser Staff

The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team started slowly and never could catch up in losing to Cal State Northridge, 30-24, 30-28, 18-30, 30-28, last night in the Matadome in Northridge, Calif.

Despite out-scoring the Matadors for the match, 110-108, the Warriors lost their third in a row for the first time since March 2000.

A week ago, the Warriors were ranked No. 1 and atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, men's volleyball's best conference. Now the Warriors are 11-5 overall and in fourth place in the MPSF with an 8-4 record.

Entering this two-match road series, the Warriors had not lost in Northridge since 1992, a span of six matches. But they lost in four games on Wednesday night. And last night, UH coach mike Wilton said, "Northridge played better than it did Wednesday night."

The Matadors relied on their serves to set the tone. Outside hitters Nils Nielsen and Cary Hansen and opposite hitter Dan Rhodes launched jump sizzlers. Setter Ty Tramblie's jump floaters and middle blocker Brian Waite's deceptive serves off a herky-jerky motion frustrated the Warriors.

"For sure, they were the best-serving team we've played yet, at least Wednesday and Friday," Wilton said. "They were banging their jump serves."

In Game 1, the Warriors could not beg for a break. On one play, UH outside hitter Delano Thomas slammed a shot off Northridge libero Doug English. The ball ricocheted off a ceiling rail, which was in fair play, to Tramblie, who lofted a hittable set.

"Stuff like that was going on a lot," Wilton said. "It was like, if Murphy's Law was in effect, it was going against us and going for them in every possible way."

The Warriors were able to pass better in Game 2, and UH easily dominated Game 3.

In Game 4, the score was tied at 25, 26, 27 and 28. But freshman Rhodes, the Matadors' primary right-side hitter, hammered a kill off a touch and Hanson finished off match point.

"Game 4 was a war," Wilton said. "I felt good about our effort. I'm not hanging my head, and I hope my guys aren't hanging their heads."

UH's Thomas had a team-high 16 kills and hit .324. Opposite hitter Pedro Azenha added 14 kills but committed 10 of the Warriors' 25 attack errors.

Rhodes, a second-year freshman, led the Matadors with 19 kills.

The Matadors, who improved to 13-6 overall and 8-5 in the MPSF, also have beaten No. 3 Brigham Young, No. 4 Long Beach State and No. 5 Pepperdine.

As for the Warriors' descent, Wilton said, "My response is the same as when I was told we were No. 1. 'OK. Great. Whatever.' There's a lot of season left. It shows this is a close league when you can lose two (matches) and drop a lot of spots."

The Warriors practice today before dining with the Southern California chapter of the UH Alumni Association.

They will have a day off tomorrow and then play road matches against Southern California Monday and Tuesday.

"They're playing really good, too," Wilton said of the Trojans. "It will be a challenge for us to bounce back."