POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2011
In what resembled volleyball's version of a prize fight, the defending national champion — Stanford — was the last team standing last night.
In a match played to exhaustion, the Cardinal outlasted Hawaii 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, 34-36, 17-15 in 2 hours, 54 minutes in the Stan Sheriff Center.
A crowd of 2,584 watched the Cardinal avenge the Warriors' three-set sweep Friday.
"It was a knock-down, drag-out match," said outside hitter Brad Lawson, an 'Iolani School graduate and one of seven Hawaii-raised players on the Cardinal roster. "I give a lot of credit to UH. They have great guys over there. I'm proud of our team. We showed character and heart against a great team."
The Warriors, meanwhile, could not find any consolation.
"We lost," UH setter Nejc Zemljak said. "We're not happy. We played a real solid match against a tough opponent. But we ended up losing. We're not about moral victories. We're about wins."
The Warriors were unable to complete the momentum of the fourth set, in which the teams combined for 11 set points before Zemljak blasted an ace off of Lawson.
The Warriors failed to capitalize at 15-14 in the final set. Lawson hit an angle shot that landed barely inbounds to tie it at 15. Then Stanford middle blocker Eric Mochalski parlayed UH outside hitter Steven Hunt's overpass into a kill.
The match ended when Lawson made a one-handed dig of Joshua Walker's sizzling spike, setting up Mochalski's aloha-ball kill.
"(Walker) tooled the block, and I just stuck a hand out and, I would say, I got a lucky dig," Lawson said. "I was going to the spot, but the ball just came my way. Luckily, somebody was there to put it away for us."
UH head coach Charlie Wade described it as a "pinball play. That's the way the ball bounces sometimes."
Indeed, there were polar fortunes from Friday's match, during which UH opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft slammed 22 kills and hit .500 while, on the other side of the net, Punahou alumnus Spencer McLachlin struggled with his accuracy (five errors against four kills) and focus.
In that match, Stanford coach John Kosty said, McLachlin was a victim of identity theft.
"On Friday, that wasn't Spencer," Kosty said. "That was an impostor."
The video version offered proof.
"I looked really slow, like molasses," McLachlin said. "I knew I had to warm up better and get off to a better start. I had to make sure I was in the zone, not looking into the crowd for family and friends, which is what I did the first night."
Stanford had two objectives: to track Umlauft, and to set McLachlin early and often.
The Cardinal would cheat over, setting double and triple blocks in Umlauft's hitting paths. Umlauft was blocked eight times in the first three sets, but he continued to fire away. He had nine kills in the fourth set, finishing with 29.
"I had to battle through this," Umlauft said.
McLachlin found his groove early.
"One of my game plans was to get Spencer going," setter Evan Barry said. "He's such an offensive weapon for us. He's the leader of our team. If I can get him going, everyone will follow."
This season, Stanford unveiled a new rotation that does not feature a true opposite hitter. The scheme allows McLachlin and Lawson to both hit D (back right) and pipe (back middle) sets.
"When other teams kind of have one guy going, we have four guys going on every offensive attack," Barry said. "We have all guns running."
Launching shots from every angle, McLachlin finished with 29 kills in 56 swings.
"That's what the (fall) season is all about," Kosty said. "You try to find your personnel and the system that best fits it. We spent five weeks looking at a lot of different systems before we came up with this one. We like it."
|Long Beach St.||3||1||.750||1||4-3|
|UC Santa Barbara||2||2||.500||2||4-3|
|UC San Diego||1||2||.333||2 1/2||2-5|
Aces -- Stanford (3): Mochalski 2, Kneller. Hawaii (2): Zemljak, Walker. Service Errors -- Stanford (16): Mochalski 5, Lawson 4, Inafuku 3, Cook 2, Shoji, Kneller. Hawaii (13): Hunt 5, Walker 4, Dyer 2, Welch, Umlauft. Assists -- Stanford (71): Barry 62, Shoji 4, Lawson 2, Ellis, Cook, McLachlin. Hawaii (68): Zemljak 58, Biscaro 4, Castello 3, Hunt 2, Umlauft. T -- 2:54. Officials -- Dan Hironaka, Dickson Chun. A -- 2,584.