POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 18, 2011
Volleyball might not be a complex science, but it does not hurt to have a science teacher as a head coach.
And when Andy Read is not leading the Long Beach State volleyball team, he is a full-time teacher at Westminster (Calif.) High School.
WARRIOR VOLLEYBALLMPSF match
» Who: Hawaii at Long Beach State
» When: 4 p.m. today and tomorrow
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
The 49ers host Hawaii tonight and tomorrow night in the Walter Pyramid. It is an important series for both teams.
The 49ers are in fourth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with an 8-5 record. The Warriors are fifth at 8-6. Each team plays 22 MPSF matches, with the top eight teams qualifying for the league's postseason tournament. The top four teams host opening-round matches.
Despite losing several important players, the 49ers have played well this season, especially in the Pyramid, where they are 5-1 in MPSF matches.
This is Read's third season as interim coach. Alan Knipe is on leave to coach the U.S. National team. Knipe will return after the 2012 Olympics.
"I'm fortunate," Read said. "Alan has given me full confidence. I don't have to look over my shoulder. I have a great staff."
Read has managed to find replacements from the roster and through recruiting.
"We had a lot of guys people didn't know about who were backups last year," Read said.
Middle blocker Ryan Meehan, who is averaging 1.11 blocks per set, played in three matches in 2010. Left-side hitter Brad Hemmerling redshirted in 2008 and did not play in any matches in 2009 and 2010. This season, Hemmerling is averaging 2.74 kills per set, second best among the 49ers, and 1.21 digs.
Opposite attacker Jim Baughman, a former middle blocker, has been a go-to hitter (3.71 kills) and effective defender (0.71 blocks and 1.20 digs). Taylor Crabb, a freshman from Punahou School, has provided accurate passing and consistent hitting since moving into the starting lineup in the eighth match of the season.
"He's such a good volleyball player," Read said of Crabb. "He's good offensively. He's a good server. He plays good defense. He can do it all."
The Warriors, meanwhile, might be whole if middle blocker Brennon Dyer, who has missed four consecutive matches because of a sprained right ankle, is available to play. Dyer is on the road trip.
"I watched (the Warriors) play, and they're a good offensive team," Read said. "They're always going to play good Hawaii volleyball. There's not one thing to worry about Hawaii. There's everything to worry about Hawaii."