Warriors will play host to Bruins
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
It is fitting that the best of volleyball foes — UCLA and Hawai'i — will meet in Saturday's quarterfinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
"The rivalry between UCLA and Hawai'i has been growing, and that's because both teams are so talented," UH outside hitter Matt Carere said. "We're expecting a good battle, and I look forward to it."
The seventh-seeded Bruins advanced with a 28-30, 31-29, 30-23, 30-15 victory over No. 8 UC Santa Barbara in last night's play-in match. The match was played in UCLA's 12,800-seat Pauley Pavilion, helping the Bruins prepare for the Stan Sheriff Center. Because of a scheduling conflict, the Bruins' two previous home matches were in the 2,000-seat John Wooden Center.
"We've been playing in some small places, so I'm glad we got acclimated to a big arena before going out to Hawai'i," UCLA coach Al Scates said.
UH and UCLA have met three times this season, all in Hawai'i. The Bruins won in five games in the final of the Outrigger Invitational. The Warriors swept two regular-season matches last month.
The Bruins have won nine in a row; the Warriors closed the regular season with 19 consecutive victories.
"Hawai'i is probably the hottest team in the country right now," Scates said. "It will be a real challenge. To win (the tournament), we have to beat them sooner or later. Not that we'll beat them, but we might as well play them now. It doesn't make any difference when you play."
UH setter Brian Beckwith, who was raised in the shadows of UCLA's imposing mystique, noted the Bruins "always make a late-season push. The push matters in the playoffs, and they're doing that right now."
Told that the Bruins, who have won 18 national championships, would be the next opponent, UH libero Alfee Reft said: "Congrats to them. We hope they have a nice trip over here. They're obviously a much better team than when we last played them. They're UCLA. They don't have that many banners for no reason."
Since Tuesday, Scates said, assistant coach Brian Rofer has assembled a scouting report on the Warriors. The coaches will meet this morning to begin formulating a game plan.
Scates said the Bruins will practice in Los Angeles today, then depart tomorrow for Hawai'i. The late booking means the Bruins will pay $1,300 per round-trip ticket, and the team will return Sunday on two separate flights.
Meanwhile, in addition to practicing, the Warriors are completing school projects and recovering from nagging ailments.
Beckwith resumed practicing yesterday after missing Tuesday's pass-and-serve drills because of a sinus infection. With school deadlines and team matters, Beckwith said, "It's tough to keep the body healthy."
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.