No. 3 Pepperdine beats No. 11 UH
|Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Pepperdine volleyball|
By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
Strong winds have created havoc through the island chain.
Third-ranked Pepperdine's imposing block and multiple-attack offense did the same in the Stan Sheriff Center last night.
The Waves rebounded from a slow start to daze and confuse No. 11 Hawai'i in a 24-30, 30-23, 30-24, 30-22 victory.
It was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation volleyball opener for both teams.
The rematch is scheduled for 7 tonight. But if there is any significant weather-related damage on the Manoa campus, the match will be postponed until 9 a.m. tomorrow. A decision will be announced at about noon today.
The Warriors would have preferred to take a rain check last night. After dominating the first set, they lost their aim and aggressiveness.
The Warriors (1-3) committed 32 of their 37 attack errors in the final three sets. The Waves had but 17 errors the entire match.
Afterward, UH head coach Mike Wilton bent his right index finger and thumb into a gun shape, then pointed at his feet.
Shoot themselves in the metaphorical foot?
"Guilty as charged," Wilton said. "None of us did well. The coaches are in it together with the players."
As predicted, the Waves would turn, early and often, to opposite attacker Paul Carroll. The 6-foot-9 Carroll led the nation in kills and scoring last season. He was named Australia's top volleyball player.
Last night, Carroll received 48 of the Waves' 145 sets, and he hammered a match-high 18 kills. But because the Warriors had to focus their block and backrow defense to Carroll's side, that opened the way for outside hitters Cory Riecks (17 kills) and Matt McKee (14).
"A lot of players played well," Pepperdine coach Marv Dunphy said. "And we had Paul Carroll to go to whenever we got into trouble."
Carroll welcomed the workload, despite a left shoulder that has been "troubling" the past few months.
"In the moment of the game," Carroll said, "it's not a big deal."
Carroll added: "It was a bit of a slow start for us. It took a while for my shoulder to warm up. But by then, we found a little more confidence. Everybody was able to attack."
The Warriors came out smokin'. But it also was apparent their early success was made of smoke.
In the first set, their go-to hitter, Joshua Walker, was pulled after succeeding on one of eight swings. Brennon Dyer replaced Walker, and the Warriors scored 17 of the next 26 points to close out the set.
But then Dyer struggled with his accuracy, and freshman outside hitters Steven Hunt and Gus Tuaniga had difficulty navigating the Waves' towering block.
The Warriors faced this dilemma: Hit high and risk overshooting the court, or tool the block and risk having the spike smothered.
"They were a really high block, and we were trying to adjust," Walker said. "We wanted to hit high hands. But we were just a little bit off. ... It's give or take. We have to read the blocks a little better, and adjust, and do more cuts instead of hitting just straight up all of the time."
Dyer hit .216 — which was a UH best for a pin attacker. Tuaniga hit .077, Walker .000 and Hunt was at negative .031.
Hunt often went against Carroll.
"Personally, I felt I had a good number on Hunt," said Carroll, who acknowledged that Hunt sometimes had the misfortune of being fed tight sets. "I could plant over the net."
The Warriors, meanwhile, could not cause any disruptions with their serves.
In the first set, they scored 11 points on plays initiated by their serves; in the final three sets, their serves netted 20 points, including only four in fourth set.
"After we got them in Game 1, they steadied out, and we stopped serving so aggressively, I thought," Wilton said.
Visit Tsai's blog at http://warriorbeat.honadvblogs.com.
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.