UH holds off San Diego
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. UC San Diego volleyball
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team worked its way closer to the playoffs with a workman-like, four-set victory over UC San Diego last night.
The No. 4-ranked Warriors defeated the No. 14 Tritons, 28-30, 30-25, 30-24, 30-28.
"There are three types of games in this league — hard, really hard, and really, really hard," Hawai'i head coach Charlie Wade said. "This one was really, really hard. We had to work hard for it, no question. Just glad we got the win."
A crowd of 2,739 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors improve to 16-8 overall and 12-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
UCSD dropped to 8-16 overall and 4-13 in the MPSF.
The teams will meet again at 7 o'clock tonight.
The Warriors can clinch a spot in the MPSF playoffs with a victory tonight.
"Our mouth is wider now," junior outside hitter Joshua Walker said. "Any time you beat a team once, you want to jump on them that second time. We want to finish this."
Most of the finishes last night came from Jonas Umlauft.
The 6-foot-9 freshman had 28 kills and finished with a .435 kill percentage to lead the Warriors.
"We had a good week of practice and I felt really good coming into this," Umlauft said. "I was focused. It was a good feeling."
Umlauft had 10 kills in the crucial second set, when Hawai'i gained the momentum.
"At 21-19 of (the first set), I call timeout and notice he had one kill and one error in three attempts," Wade said. "I said we need to set him more. After that, in (set) two, he gets 10 kills and I'm saying that's more like it. That's our boy."
Setter Nejc Zemljak obliged, setting Umlauft a match-high 46 times.
"I think (Zemljak) he knows when one guy is on fire," Umlauft said. "I don't have to tell him."
Walker added 17 kills and Steven Hunt 10 for Hawai'i.
The Warriors lost the first set despite hitting .400. They finished with a .331 percentage for the match.
"We had plenty of chances in the first (set), we just weren't getting enough digs," Walker said. "And that's UCSD. They're really good at staying in games with everybody. They don't make errors to beat themselves."
The first set featured 22 ties. The Tritons took control late in the set with four consecutive points to take a 29-27 lead.
UCSD's Frank Fritsch had seven kills in the first set, including the 30th point.
"The margin for error is so small in this league, every point is so important," Wade said. "They get an ace off the net and another ace right in the corner, and that's two points right there."
But the Warriors then rode the right arm of Umlauft to victory. He put down 10 kills in 16 attempts in the second set, then added seven kills in the third set.
"When somebody is playing like that, you feed him as much as possible," Walker said of Umlauft. "He was just putting every ball away tonight."
The fourth set had its share of drama. The Warriors jumped to a 13-8 lead, then fell behind 19-17.
Umlauft then broke a 24-24 tie with a kill to give the Warriors the lead for good.
Wade credited two reserves — Brennon Dyer and Ernie Vidinha — for sparking the Warriors in the fourth set.
Vidinha, who did not play in the first three sets, had an ace and a key solo block in the fourth set.
"One guy coming off the bench like that to score two points is huge in a game like that," Wade said. "But that's been one of our themes all year. There's a bunch of guys we know we can count on."
Frank Fritsch had 22 kills and hit for a .410 percentage to lead UCSD. The Tritons finished with a .272 kill percentage.
The victory avenged two Hawai'i losses at UCSD last season. The Warriors now have an all-time record of 40-2 against the Tritons.
Tonight's match will be "Senior Night" and Hawai'i's six seniors will be honored after the match. The six are Vidinha, Steven Grgas, Matt Rawson, Ric Cervantes, Joseph Strotman and Justin Ching.