Hawai'i tops CS-Northridge in marathon
The University of Hawai'i volleyball team squandered a significant advantage and then regrouped to hold off Cal State Northridge, 30-25, 30-20, 29-31, 18-30, 15-11, last night in California.
The turnaround — before 1,049 in The Matadome — helped the fourth-ranked Warriors win their fourth in a row and improve to 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Matadors, ranked No. 5, fell to 8-6 and 4-5.
"Oh, man, that was crazy," UH libero Alfee Reft said. "We'll take it. When you're on the road, you take anything you can get."
Outside hitter José José Delgado led the Warriors with 20 kills, and middle blocker Dio Dante contributed to 10 of the team's 18 blocks.
Despite arriving in town late Thursday, the Warriors appeared to be fresh, using accurate passing to spark the offense in Games 1 and 2. They led 13-8 in the third game when, according to coach Mike Wilton, "the proverbial wheels came off."
The Matadors, relying on their improved passing and reconstructed block, began to reduce their deficit. Opposite attacker Dan Rhodes slammed a kill, and then the Matadors scored on three consecutive blocks.
"I was going to call a timeout, but I had so much confidence in them," Wilton said. "The next thing I know, we were up by one. (The Matadors) hit another gear, and we downshifted, or something. We got progressively worse over the next game and a half."
As the Matadors pulled away in Game 4, the Warriors refused to panic.
"They played well, and they're notorious for coming back and forcing fifth games," Reft said. "They stepped it up, and they had the momentum. But we knew the fifth is anyone's game. You can't think about how you got there. You just know it starts with a 0-0 score, and you go from there."
Wilton said: "It didn't take much to fan Northridge's fire. They had a really nice crowd, very boisterous, with a lot of students. ... But we have a pretty good group of players. They have a lot of confidence in themselves."
In Game 5, Reft, Delgado and left-side hitter Matt Carere resumed their accurate passing. That expanded the options for setter Brian Beckwith.
"The main thing is we pulled together," Delgado said. "We knew it wouldn't be easy, and it wasn't. They're an awesome team. But we're pretty good when we're mentally focused."
The Warriors also were able to contain Rhodes, who hammered 41 kills in a match last week. Last night, Rhodes had a team-high 18 kills, but he committed 12 errors and hit .120. He was blocked six times.
Because of a scheduling conflict at The Matadome, the rematch between the teams begins today at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
Wilton said the alarm clock is set for 7. The team meal is at 7:15 and team meeting at 8.
"At 9," Wilton said, "we're checking out, and it's time to go to war."
The Warriors will have a bye tomorrow, then play matches against Southern California on Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles. The team returns Wednesday.