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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 28, 2010

UH's Wade able to mix, match volleyball lineup

BY Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Charlie Wade

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The strength of the Hawai'i volleyball team is in its flexibility.

"We have options," said UH head coach Charlie Wade, whose Warriors play UC Irvine tomorrow and Saturday night in the Stan Sheriff Center.

After being crushed by Stanford on consecutive nights in the first half of a four-match road trip, the Warriors rebounded to win two against Pacific. The key was versatility. Steven Hunt started at left-side hitter in place of Gus Tuaniga, and Brennon Dyer opened in the middle.

Wade said there is enough talent to rotate Joshua Walker, Hunt and Tuaniga at the two left-side positions, and Dyer, Steven Grgas and Matt Rawson in the two middle spots.

"It's nice to be able to change your lineup based on what you think you need in a match," Wade said.

Wade said lineups now can be dictated by matchups, instead of simply substituting a struggling player with the person next on the depth chart.

"Tactically, it's nice to have that option," Wade said "We'll make changes, even during the match, relative to what's in front of us."

At 6 feet 4, Dyer is 3 inches shorter than both Grgas and Rawson. But Dyer has a long wingspan, and he can touch 11 feet 8 inches off a standing jump, the highest vertical among the middle blockers.

"He's a completely different matchup for (opposing) middles," Wade said. "He has long arms, and he's so fast off the ground. He's nice at left front, middle front, right front. And he can bang it from the back row."

The Warriors also have been able to tinker with their defense. Through the first six matches, libero Ric Cervantes was positioned in the middle of the back row. While it gave Cervantes more responsibilities in the back row, it also limited him from moving up to make digs or being used as a second setter.

"I knew all of the nuances and reads of the college game, just volleyball in general, playing left back," Cervantes said. "In middle back, you have to play the waiting game. You play deflections and stuff. You have to move inside the block and make reads."

When Cervantes was in the middle, Walker played left back.

Wade said the Warriors have the options of playing Cervantes and Walker at either middle back or left back.

"It's nice to have guys who have a wider skill set to do a bunch of stuff," Wade said.