Warriors dominate Hope in three
By Stephen Tsai
Relying on service, with a style, Hawai'i cruised to a 30-13, 30-23, 30-21 volleyball rout of Hope International last night.
The Warriors dominated at the service line, committing only three errors — none in the first two sets. Their first error came on their 70th serve.
What's more, they scored points on half of their serves — 44 of 88. A conversion rate of 35 percent is considered to be excellent.
"That was something we wanted to focus on," UH coach Charlie Wade said of the Warriors' usually fickle serving.
Setter Nejc Zemljak was particularly efficient. The Warriors scored on 16 of his 23 serves. In the first set, he served 10 points, including nine in a row that extended the Warriors' lead to 22-8.
"It was a great run, but it was my teammates who made it happen," Zemljak said. "There was maybe one ace in there. The rest of the time, my teammates made great blocks and played great defense. It was a great team effort."
Zemljak acknowledged that the key to serving was to use the same toss and form for each attempt.
"We wanted every serve to be like the previous one," Zemljak said.
That followed Wade's pointed pre-match instructions.
"We wanted to build on last week's performance (against Alberta Saturday) where we were consistently efficient," Wade said. "That's the idea in our league. You have to play really good for a long time, and you do that by playing really good for very short amounts of time. The guys did a great job."
The Warriors were able to dismiss any superiority complex. The Warriors are members of volleyball's best collegiate league, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Hope, which competes in NAIA, had a height disadvantage at nearly every position. In one rotation, none of their backrow players was taller than 5 feet 10.
"It's kind of a trap game," Wade said. "You think, 'Oh, NAIA.' We talked about how we can be disciplined enough emotionally and mature enough where we can come in and play well for a long period of time."
But the Royals had their moments, inspired by a vocal group of supporters that invaded the section usually reserved for the Mānoa Maniacs. They chanted, "Let's go Hope!" and held plus-size pictures of the Royals.
Still, the Royals were no match for the Warriors' quick spread attack. With opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft slamming a match-high 20 kills from the right side and left-side hitter Josh Walker soaring for spikes behind the 3-meter line, that left 6-foot-8 Matt "Dragon" Rawson facing a solo block.
"When my team spreads it like that, it makes it a lot easier for me," said Rawson, who had 14 kills and hit .600.
Umlauft, who was blocked three times and had seven hitting errors, also benefitted from the green light.
"The coaches always tell us to forget (about the previous play)," Umlauft said. "We don't lose confidence when we don't perform good. I try to do that. It helps me be ready for the next play."