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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 26, 2006

UH rises, shines to win fifth in row

Advertiser Staff


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The importance of a good night's rest might be over-stated.

In a rare brunch-time match, the University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team powered past Cal State Northridge, 30-27, 41-39, 30-27, before 471 in The Matadome in California.

In winning their fifth in a row, the fourth-ranked Warriors improved to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Matadors, who are No. 5, fell to 8-7 and 4-6.

Because of a scheduling conflict, yesterday's match started at 9 a.m. Hawai'i time — 15 hours after Friday's aloha ball. The Warriors woke up at 5 a.m. Hawai'i time.

"Both teams were tired," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "I saw a lot of spikes hit the top of the net. Of course, it was the same for both teams. It was a challenge for both teams."

Still, except for lapses in Game 2, the Warriors passed and served effectively, boosting both their attack and block. José José Delgado hammered 17 kills and Dio Dante had 11 of the Warriors' 20 blocks.

"Oh, my gosh, (a total of) 11 blocks is amazing," Delgado said. "Dio is getting better every day. I'm really proud of him."

The Warriors' point total in Game 2 was the second-most in the program's history. (They had 42 against UCLA in 2001.) That game also marked the season debut of opposite attacker John Matt Bender, who was sidelined with torn ligaments in his left ankle. Entering with UH trailing 21-18, Bender hammered eight kills in Game 2. The Matadors served for game point four times, the last at 39-38.

"I think (Bender) turned the tide," Wilton said.

Wilton said Lauri Hakala's inconsistent aim — the Matadors called off the double-block on him — necessitated the switch.

"We needed to be balanced," Wilton said. "Bender came in and did a nice job. I think he turned the tide."

Bender said he is adjusting to being in the right position to attack. Because of the ankle injury, he had limited work on spiking off a three-step approach.

"It was a crash course in remembering how to hit," Bender said.

UH libero Alfee Reft said: "With a good team, when one thing is a little off-balanced, somebody can step in and balance it out. That's what (Bender) did."

Northridge's Dan Rhodes finished with six kills (10 errors), and 24 kills for the two-match series. He had 41 kills in a match last week.

"He's obviously a great player," UH floor captain Matt Carere said. "He was the Player of the Week. He'll bounce back."

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