Rainbow Warriors embark on key trip
BY Stephen Tsai
The shuttle bus was idling, but Hawai'i volleyball player Joshua Walker was not.
Walker was one of the last Warriors to board the bus to Honolulu International Airport yesterday.
"I wanted to get some extra lifts in," he said. "This is a huge trip. I want to make sure I'm ready."
After a five-week homestand, the Warriors are set for a demanding road trip.
The Warriors, who are tied for fourth place with a 6-4 record in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, play third-ranked Cal State Northridge (9-5 in MPSF) tomorrow and Saturday, and 2009 NCAA runner-up Southern California (6-5) Monday and Tuesday.
Only the top eight teams qualify for the MPSF playoffs.
"It's a huge opportunity," Walker said. "It can put us on the top of the conference, if we beat some good teams on the road."
The Warriors claim they have learned from last month's road trip, in which they lost two matches against Stanford but swept Pacific.
"We're a better team now," libero Ric Cervantes said. "We faced a lot of adversity the last time we were on the road. Now we know we have to work toward our goals."
Since then, the Warriors have settled on a lineup and rotation.
Walker, the left-side hitter, is matched with middle blocker Matt "Dragon" Rawson and 6-foot-9 opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft in the front row for UH's opening rotation.
Left-side hitter Steven Hunt has emerged as a reliable primary passer and secondary hitter. Steven Grgas has recovered from a fracture in his right (hitting) hand to reclaim a starting middle's job.
"I'm definitely excited to be back," said Grgas, a fifth-year senior who provided a boost in the Warriors' recent sweep of Brigham Young.
Walker said: "We're glad he's back. He was one of the top blockers in the nation a couple of years ago. He knows what he's doing, and he's going to help us out, as far as our defense and making it easier on us."