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Monday, December 22, 2014         

UH MEN'S VOLLEYBALL


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Coach focuses on serving, diversifying ahead of rematch

By Stephen Tsai

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Friday night, the Hawaii volleyball team constructed a surprising three-set sweep of second-ranked Stanford.

Now the No. 13 Warriors are focused on the improvement project.

"Oh, we can work on a lot of things, for sure," UH head coach Charlie Wade said of today's rematch in the Stan Sheriff Center. First serve will be at about 5:10 p.m.

In Friday's match, the Warriors hit .459, with eight errors in 74 swings, led by opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft's 22 kills and .500 accuracy.

But Wade said the Warriors will need to serve better and diversify the offense for the rematch.

"I think we put some tough serves in bounds, but the reality is we only served inbounds around 80 percent," Wade said.

The Warriors, in fact, placed 84 percent of their serves in play (12 errors in 73 serves). Setter Nejc Zemljak, who is capable of 90-percent accuracy on serves, was at 74 percent in the opener. He had no aces.

Zemljak, who is the Warriors' opening server every set, admittedly is struggling to find rhythm despite going through his usual routine: Deep breath, high toss and four-step approach.

"I have to focus up a little more," Zemljak said. "I'm pretty sure it's going to come back."

Wade also would like to get the middle hitters more involved in the offense. In Friday's match, Brennon Dyer was set four times. Shane Welch was not set at all. Welch's lone kill came on a Cardinal overpass.

"They set him one more time than we did," Wade mused.

The Warriors got a gritty effort from Dyer, who played despite a sprained left ankle. Dyer contributed to four of the Warriors' 11 blocks. Dyer is expected to start again today.

"Our passing was good but not great," Wade said. "We're not giving up many aces, but we're not allowing our middles to get involved much."

Zemljak said: "We'll do what it takes to win. We hit, what, .450? I don't think you'd want to change anything if it's working that well. We definitely want to involve the middles, but we're hitting well without them."

That is because Umlauft and left-side hitters Joshua Walker and Steven Hunt have provided most of the punch. Umlauft and Walker have the most range -- each is effective blasting spikes from behind the 3-meter line -- while Hunt has become a dependable passer, hitter and blocker.

"He's playing great for us," Zemljak said of Hunt. "He does awesome stuff."

During fall training, Hunt worked on channeling his energy. In the past, Hunt, often was overly self-critical.

"It's something the coaches have been talking to me about," Hunt said. "I have to do it if I want to play."

Wade said: "He's doing a good job for us. He's very important to us."






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