Talk about role player, Schkud's played 'em all
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
The Jake of all trades for the University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team wants to master one final task before his collegiate career is done.
Jake Schkud — the lone senior for the Warriors this season — will play his final two home matches this week, with Hawai'i fighting for its playoff life.
"Have we won a championship yet?" Schkud said. "You can't be satisfied without one. That's how I'd like to end it. Hopefully, we can still make a Cinderella story out of this."
Hawai'i, which is ranked No. 13, will host No. 4 Brigham Young today and tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Warriors are 10-13 overall and in ninth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation at 7-11. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
BYU is 19-4 overall and tied for second place in the MPSF at 14-4.
Hawai'i is 1 1/2 games behind UC Irvine and USC for the final playoff spot. After the two matches against BYU, the Warriors will close the regular season with two road matches at Pepperdine.
In short, the Warriors need to win and hope for some of the teams ahead of them to lose.
"This whole year has kind of been a circus act," Schkud said. "We've gotten so used to having guys down with injuries and playing other positions. This is no different."
If so, Schkud has become the main attraction. He has played opposite, left-side hitter and middle blocker.
"It seemed like every other day I was getting switched around," said Schkud, who is 6 feet 4. "I would have preferred to stay with one position so I could get used to it, but the way the season's been going, I've never been able to get used to any position."
Still, Schkud leads the team in aces (27), is third in kills per game (2.65), third in digs (147) and third in total blocks (84). He has also scored more points (317.5) than any other Warrior this season.
Schkud and junior setter Sean Carney are the only players who have started every match this season.
"To be honest, it's been kind of a disappointing year for me because I feel like I haven't been able to do as much as I could," Schkud said.
Teammates insist Schkud has done just the opposite.
"I'm not disappointed in him at all," Carney said. "He took on so many roles this season. This has been a team plagued with injuries, but we're still in a position to compete (for the playoffs). One of the guys who put us in this position is Jake."
Schkud is from Santa Monica, Calif., and spent his first year of college at UC Santa Barbara as a redshirt on the volleyball team.
The following year, he transferred to Hawai'i. UCSB is currently in 10th place in the conference standings.
"Maybe I should have gone to UCLA or Irvine to get a championship," he said with a laugh.
Schkud said he chose Hawai'i "mainly for volleyball" and because he had several friends on the team.
From UH, Schkud will leave with a college degree and a lot of new friendships.
He will graduate next month with a major in sociology, but he'd like to give professional volleyball a try as his first job.
"I'd like to play overseas," he said. "Give it one shot at playing high-level volleyball and see how that goes."
Carney, who is a co-captain along with Schkud, said he is confident the team's only senior will become a future success.
"I think he's going to make a million dollars one day," Carney said. "I'm latching on now."
It is Schkud's humorous and easy-going demeanor that makes him one of the most popular players on the team. When asked what attribute fans might remember about him, he replied: "Definitely not my haircut."
In an instant, he can roll off memories of current and past teammates.
Like the time he tried to chest-bump Eric Kalima and got knocked backwards. Or the time he was credited with more digs than libero Ric Cervantes.
Through it all, his parents — Henry and Angela — have been there to watch. This season, either his mother or father, if not both, was at every match, home and away.
"They're happy I chose Hawai'i," Schkud said. "They got a vacation every other week."
While Schkud said he would have preferred to end his UH career with a defined position, he is OK with the utility label.
"Maybe it didn't work out for me, but I tried my best," he said. "That's what I want people to remember. I was supposed to be too short to play middle, but I tried. I was never known for my passing, and all of a sudden I had to be the primary passer. What ever they asked, I tried my best."
Regardless of this week's outcomes, Schkud will be honored after tomorrow's match.
"I can't even describe how nice all the aunties have been to my parents and to me," he said. "I feel like I have a second family here."
Junior outside hitter Jim Clar, who leads Hawai'i with 3.77 kills per game, is out with a shoulder injury. Sophomore middle blocker Matt Rawson is also out with a shoulder injury.
Brock Hutchins, a 6-4 outside hitter, is listed on the UH roster as a senior, but he is seeking another season of eligibility.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.