Hawaii to face king of the block
BY Stephen Tsai
For the Hawai'i volleyball team, tonight's scouting report should be written in block print.
Most of Brigham Young's success this season — it sits atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a 7-3 record — can be traced to its block.
The Cougars lead the MPSF with 3.37 blocks per set. And subsequently, they also are No. 1 with 11.24 digs per set.
"It's easy to play defense around a disciplined block," BYU coach Shawn Patchell said. "That's something we've worked on. Hopefully, it will continue."
The Cougars' block should provide a challenge for the Warriors' all-points attack. Not only are UH left-side hitter Joshua Walker and opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft threats from the front row, but they also can blast away from behind the 3-meter line — Walker on quick pipe sets, Umlauft from the back right.
The Cougars also present problems with their speedy offense, which is comparable to the quick-to-the-pins plays run by Stanford and UC Irvine.
"It puts a lot of pressure on you defensively," UH coach Charlie Wade said.
The Cougar offense has altered from the original blueprint.
Alex Da Pron, a co-captain and one of the most accurate outside passers, suffered a knee injury and has not played this season. The Cougars have used four different starters at that position.
"We've been moving some guys around," Patchell said. "That's a position that's a concern, but we're doing OK. We're battling it out."
Meanwhile, Reed Chilton beat out three-year starter Yamil Perez for the starting setter's job.
Patchell said: "We just let them battle it out. (Chilton) just won out at that position. It's just like a quarterback competition in football. You look at the numbers. The team just worked a little better with Reed. But Yamil is coming on strong."
The Warriors welcome back middle blocker Steven Grgas, who missed eight matches because of a fracture on his right (hitting) hand.
Although Grgas' right hand is heavily wrapped, he has been cleared to practice and play.
Brennon Dyer still is expected to start at the middle position opposite Matt "Dragon" Rawson. But Wade noted: "Steven is available. It's good to have a fifth-year guy who's played a lot."
Wade said outside hitter Joe Strotman is still recovering from an ankle injury, and will not be available to play in this two-match series.