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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Warriors bump up to No. 2 in rankings

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i volleyball team yesterday ascended to No. 2 — its best position this season — in both national rankings, but the magic number still is "7."

That's the jersey number for outside hitter José José Delgado, the Warriors' top attacker (4.33 kills per game) and an accurate passer.

Delgado has recovered from a throat infection that prevented him from playing in the past weekend's two victories over UC San Diego.

"I'm feeling much better," said Delgado, who participated in serve-and-pass drills yesterday. "I'm ready for BYU."

The Warriors close the regular season with matches against arch-rival Brigham Young on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors already have clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation postseason tournament, whose winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA final four.

But a weekend sweep would strengthen the Warriors' NCAA chances. The MPSF, the strongest of the nation's three Division I-II volleyball conferences, has supplied the at-large team in all but one of the past 24 NCAA final four tournaments.

"The test will be this weekend," UH floor captain Matt Carere said. "We need to keep winning. We can't rely on anybody else to help us make it to the NCAAs."

The Warriors earned some overdue respect when they placed No. 2 in the CSTV/AVCA top-15 poll, selected by 16 head coaches, and the Molten/Volleyball top-10 rankings, picked by the editors of Volleyball Magazine. UC Irvine (25-3) remains No. 1.

UH actually moved into second place in the MPSF three weeks ago, but still trailed BYU in both rankings. UH coach Mike Wilton said the Warriors' No. 2 ranking is fitting.

"I think you can take the order of the top seven or eight teams (in the MPSF) and use it as your national guide," Wilton said.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.