Warrior volleyball team wins 14th in a row
The University of Hawai'i volleyball team dominated the serve-and-pass phase, the net and then Stanford for a 30-20, 30-19, 30-21 victory in the Burnham Pavilion at Stanford, Calif.
"It wasn't one of our best games, but they couldn't handle us," middle blocker Jake Schkud said. "They had so many worries where (setters) Brian (Beckwith) and Sean (Carney) were going to set the ball. We served very well, and we blocked very well."
It took 75 minutes for the Warriors to win their 14th in a row, and improve to 18-4 overall and 14-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
A victory in tonight's rematch would boost the Warriors into a virtual tie with idle UC Irvine (14-2) atop the MPSF.
"We're not looking at the rankings or standings," Beckwith said. "The only thing we care about is getting better each day. Each win is contributing to us getting better."
The Warriors set the tone with sizzling jump serves. They racked up a season-high 11 aces, including four by opposite attacker Lauri Hakala and three by reserve Matt Bender.
"Coach (Mike Wilton) made it a point to tell us 'not to serve for aces but to just serve tough,' " Beckwith said. "It's like in baseball: make contact and it'll go out of the park."
Most important, the Warriors scored 43 points on plays initiated by their 88 serves. A dozen points were a result of Stanford over-passes. "I think we had help in that department," Wilton said. "For the most part, we were pretty steady."
Entering the third match of a four-match road trip, the Warriors were concerned about fatigue and over-confidence. Stanford, fresh off a two-week hiatus, is the Warriors' first unranked opponent this season. The Cardinal (4-19, 2-15 in MPSF) is in the third year of a spiral. Coach Don Shaw, who is retiring at the end of this season, said the school's tough admission standards — 1,800 of more than 20,000 applicants are accepted each year — and pricey tuition make it difficult to attract top volleyball talent. Stanford's tallest player, 6-foot-7 Chris Ahlfeldt, is an inch taller than Beckwith.
During a pre-match meeting, Wilton implored his players to ignore the Cardinal's record. "I think we need to use every match and every practice as an opportunity to get better," Wilton said. "I think it's very important to do that. You only have a finite number of opportunities to practice and play. You should make use of all of them."
With two-thirds of Burnham's 1,200 seats unused, the gym was somewhat drafty.
"It was kind of cold," UH's Carney said. "It kind of reminded of a fire place because of all of the bricks. Once we got used to the different atmosphere, it was fun."
A 5-all tie was broken in Game 1 when Matt Ceran served into the net, one of 12 points the Cardinal gave away on service mistakes.
Then UH's José José Delgado served four consecutive points — two when Dio Dante slammed back Cardinal over-passes — to give the Warriors a 10-5 lead. They went on to win that game, opening the way for the reserves. All of the 12 players on the UH active roster played. Bender, who played both opposite and left-side hitter, had four kills and served eight points. Kalima played outside hitter and libero, a position he might inherit from senior Alfee Reft. Carney, who set in Game 3, had two kills.