UH men host volleyball event
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
How close are the members of the University of Hawai'i volleyball team?
While eating at a fast-food restaurant on Monday, outside hitter Matt Carere began to choke.
"I couldn't breathe for a while," Carere recalled. "It was a little bit scary. I was making the universal signal for choking."
Middle blocker Kyle Klinger said: "I thought he was making the choking signal, but he wasn't saying anything."
"That's because I was choking," Carere said.
Klinger said: "I almost thought about walking away, but I was like, 'No, I should save him.' He looked at me and went, 'aaurgh.' I looked around and thought, 'He really is choking.' I turned him around and slapped his back. Whatever was stuck in there came out."
Carere added: "I think he enjoyed hitting me too much. But I'm very thankful. He's a good friend."
"We'll do anything for each other," Klinger said, "even clean up the stuff someone coughs out."
The Warriors are relying on that unity as they enter today's opening round of the three-day Outrigger Invitational in the Stan Sheriff Center. The visiting teams — Penn State, Ohio State and UCLA — played in last year's NCAA final four.
"We're excited about the opportunity to get better and compete against some real quality teams," said Carere, whose team opened the season with last week's split against UC Santa Barbara. "We're on a roll and we're getting better every day. This year, everyone contributes a little more evenly. It makes the team a little more uniform. We're all having a great time playing on the court. We love practicing and being together. We hang out a lot off the court, and that makes us stronger on the court."
The Warriors are seeking to replace opposite hitter Pedro Azenha, who completed his eligibility last May. They also are without opposite hitter John Matt Bender, who is recovering from torn ligaments in his left ankle.
To make up for Azenha's powerful serves, every UH attacker now uses a jump serve. UH also is running a quicker offense, in which the attackers are in motion before the set.
"I think we can improve overall, but we're doing pretty good," UH coach Mike Wilton said. "Our only concern is ourselves."
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.