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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 7, 2006

Warrior volleyball missing Delgado

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

MPSF VOLLEYBALL

WHO: UC San Diego (1-24, 0-18 in MPSF) vs. Hawai'i (19-4, 15-3).

WHEN/WHERE: 7:05 p.m. today, tomorrow at Stan Sheriff Center.

TICKETS: $14 (for lower bowl), $11 (upper level), $9 (upper level: senior citizens), $3 (upper level: UH students, ages 4-18, Super Rooters; lower level: Manoa Maniacs).

PARKING: $3.

RADIO: KKEA (1420 AM).

TV: KFVE (channel 5).

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The University of Hawai'i volleyball team might be without its best attacker when it plays UC San Diego tonight in the Stan Sheriff Center.

Outside hitter Josť Josť Delgado, who averages a team-high 4.33 kills per game, has missed the past two practices.

"He's ill," UH coach Mike Wilton said.

Since going to a set lineup on Jan. 27, the Warriors have won 16 of 17 matches, including the past 15. During the surge, the rotation was tweaked once, with Johnny Matt Bender starting in place of Delgado for a non-conference match against Loyola.

If Delgado is unavailable tonight, Bender is expected to start.

"It looks that way," Bender said. "If I need to go in, I'll go. I'm ready."

Bender said he has fully recovered from an ankle injury that prevented him from playing in the Warriors' first 17 matches. Bender entered the season as the Warriors' top returning hitter.

The Warriors face a team that is in a 14-season slump. Since joining the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in 1993, the Tritons are 12-263 in league matches. Their best MPSF season was in 2004, when they went 4-18. They are 0-33 against the Warriors.

But don't expect the Warriors to feel sorry for the Tritons, particularly under setter Brian Beckwith's watch.

"He's a really nice guy, but he has a switch he turns on when he gets on the court, and then he becomes a real competitor," UH middle blocker Mauli'a LaBarre said of Beckwith. "He loves to win. He expects a lot, especially of himself. He'll dive for balls. He'll set. He's a great leader. That attitude is contagious."

Beckwith seized a leadership role almost immediately. He started as a freshman in 2004, bumping senior Kimo Tuyay, who was the setter on the UH team that defeated Pepperdine in the 2002 NCAA championship match.

The more experienced players deferred to Beckwith. "He had the international experience playing for the Junior (national) team," LaBarre said.

Backup middle blocker Jake Schkud, who has known Beckwith since they were 14, said, "Brian just leads by performance. He's always consistent. I don't think he's ever had a bad game, and I don't think he ever will have a bad game. When someone's that consistent, people tend to notice that and look to that person."

Beckwith said he has admittedly matured into his role. As the floor captain last season, he often disputed questionable calls, sometimes using glares to prolong his protests. This season, he said, he has worked on providing "calm leadership."

"A lot has to do with coach Wilton," Beckwith said. "He made it a point for all of us to accept the (officiating) as it is, that one or two bad calls will not change the game. He wants us to play hard and well so the refs have no influence on the game."

BANQUET ON APRIL 17

The Warriors' annual banquet is scheduled for April 17 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.

Cost is $45 for adults, and $20 for ages 4 to 12.

No-host cocktails will be served at 5:30 p.m, with the dinner buffet to begin at 6:30.

For details, call Fred Parker at 623-2135 or 630-9304.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.