Posted on: Tuesday, January 4, 2005
Warriors will load up left side for opener
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center.
TOMORROW: 4 p.m., Lewis vs. Brigham Young; 7 p.m., Penn State at Hawai'i.
TICKETS: $12 (Iower bowl), $9 (upper bowl), $8 (senior citizens, upper bowl), $3 (ages 4-18, UH students, Super Rooters, Manoa Maniacs).
RADIO: KKEA (1420 AM).
TELEVISION: KFVE (Ch. 5).
The plan, which was partially introduced yesterday, is designed to improve the offensive firepower on the left side and allow the Warriors' two best attackers Pedro Azenha and Matt Bender to play in the same lineup. Azenha and Bender, who did not practice yesterday because of a sore left shoulder, play the same position (opposite hitter).
A move was necessitated because UH's left-side hitters, José José Delgado and Matt Carere, combined for 12 kills and 14 errors in a three-game exhibition loss to Alberta on Friday.
"The most important thing to have in the game of volleyball is good left-side hitting," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "I'm sorry, but that (priority) doesn't change."
In UH's system, the two left-side hitters and the libero are primary passers; the opposite hitter is required to pass in one of the six rotation serves. Wilton said he projects Azenha remaining at opposite and Delgado and Bender opening on the left side. By tweaking it so Bender follows Azenha in the rotation, both will be required to pass "only a sliver" of the time, Wilton said. Azenha and Bender are marginal passers.
"It's a work in progress," Wilton said after yesterday's 2›-hour practice, "but I like what I saw."
Bender, who did not play in the two exhibitions last week, is expected to resume practicing today.
"That's my estimate," he said, "unless I wake up and my arm falls off."
He said he felt "a horrible amount of pain" in his left shoulder last week. "I was praying, 'Oh, God, please don't let it be a tear,'" he recalled.
Instead, medical tests showed he had tendinitis and bursitis.
If Bender is not available, middle blocker Jake Schkud will start at left-side hitter.
"My normal position is on the left side," said Schkud, who practiced there yesterday. Listed on the UH Web site as being 6 feet 3, Schkud said he is 6-5 and has a vertical jump of 36 inches.
"I love playing the outside," he said. "I love bringing the heat."
Schkud's move to the outside opens the way for third-year sophomore Dionisio Dante or newcomer Kyle Klinger to start at middle blocker. Mauli'a LaBarre starts at the other middle position.
Klinger was activated last week after passing the team's conditioning test. Dante was reinstated two weeks ago after serving a suspension for violating a team rule during fall training.
"It feels great to be back and sweating," Dante said. "I'm still a little rusty, but I'm confident."
He kept in shape lifting weights and playing beach volleyball.
Carere did not practice yesterday because of "tightness" in his back.
Yesterday, the Warriors practiced in Gym I, which suffered water damage from the New Year's Day storm. An "exterior drain," which actually is located on the gym's ceiling, cracked, flooding the two-year-old wooden floor. The UH coaches spent 90 minutes mopping the floor that day.
Yesterday, parts of the gym's two courts were warped. UH practices in the Stan Sheriff Center today.
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com or 525-8051.