The Hawaii volleyball team’s top attacker was ailing.
UCLA made the Warriors feel worse.
Fueled by a quick middle attack, UCLA cruised to a 25-19, 25-14, 25-21 victory in the final match of the Outrigger Invitational last night in the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Bruins (5-1) clinched the title Friday night when the Warriors lost to Penn State in five sets. The Warriors finished 0-3 for the first time in this round-robin tournament’s 17-year history.
The Warriors were without opposite attacker Jonas Umlauft, who was suffering from what he described as a stomach virus. Umlauft said he began experiencing adverse symptoms Friday night. He participated in warmups before deciding he would not be able to play.
"I tried," Umlauft said.
UCLA coach Al Scates said: "It wasn’t the same without the big guy in there. We built a whole game plan around stopping him. Basically, it was a disappointment for me."
For the Warriors, it created chaos.
UH head coach Charlie Wade debated between starting 6-foot-1 Harrison Carroll at opposite in place of 6-9 Umlauft, or moving middle blocker Brennon Dyer to the right side.
"Harrison practiced at opposite, and was doing a nice job," Wade said.
Wade started Carroll.
"Less moving parts," Wade said, adding it would keep Dyer in the middle.
But the Warriors struggled with their hitting accuracy and offensive rhythm. They also had difficulty slowing the Bruins’ middle attack.
UCLA middles — referred to as quick attackers in their system — combined for 16 kills in 24 swings. Weston Dunlap, who moved into the rotation in the second set of the Bruins’ opening match Thursday night, had 10 kills against one error in 14 attempts.
Not only was Dunlap named to the all-tournament team, he secured a starting job.
"I’m pretty excited about that," Dunlap said. "Our team is starting to look good. We’re starting to get it together."
The Warriors, who set the middle only 12 times, scrambled to find an effective rotation.
In the second set, Dyer moved to opposite, freshman middle Shane Welch was sent to the sideline, and Michael Taxter and Jarrod Lofy played the middle.
But none of the moves could compensate for the loss of Umlauft, one of the nation’s best trouble-set hitters. Umlauft, who attacks from the right side in five rotation turns, can draw the middle blocker away from left-side hitters Joshua Walker and Steven Hunt.
Walker and Hunt each hit .000.
"We pushed a lot of buttons and tried a lot of things," Wade said. "We tried to find some rhythm. It’s obviously not the same team without Jonas. He’s been a big part of what we’ve done since he’s been here."
The Bruins, meanwhile, found adversity leading to an interesting development. Alex Scattareggia has played well at setter as an injury replacement.
"He’s doing a great job for us," Scates said.
In the earlier match, outside hitter Joe Sunder pounded 13 kills to boost Penn State to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 victory over Ball State.
The Nittany Lions finished second in the three-night tournament.
"We’re 2-1 and the Steelers won," Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. "All is right in the world."
Sunder, a 6-foot-7 junior, blasted 24 and 32 kills in the Nittany Lions’ first two matches, respectively. Yesterday, he took only 24 swings as Penn State went with a more balanced attack.
"That was a conscious decision," Pavlik said. "We know what we have with Joe. The other thing we wanted to do was get some of the other guys in."
Opposite attacker Tom Comfort contributed 10 kills for the Nittany Lions, and left-side hitter Jace Olsen passed 17 serves without an error.
It was senior libero Dennis Del Valle who provided unheralded leadership. Del Valle choreographed the defense that, in particular, denied Ball State middle Anders Nelson.
Nelson, who was instrumental in defeating UH on Thursday night, committed five errors in 13 swings and hit .077.
UCLA DEF. HAWAII 25-19, 25-14, 25-21
|BRUINS (5-1, 3-0 in Outrigger)|
|HAWAII (0-3, 0-3)|
Key — s: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills plus blocks plus aces)
Aces –UCLA (3): Dunlap, Scattareggia, Quiroga. Hawaii (1): Walker. Service Errors — UCLA (15): Scattareggia 3, Amberg 3, Casebeer 3, Bridgeman 2, Dunlap, Quiroga, Hanley, Worley. Hawaii (15): Hunt 4, Taxter 3, Walker 2, Zemljak 2, Biscaro 2, Dyer, Carroll. Assists — UCLA (34): Scattareggia 30, Quiroga 2, Dunlap, Hastings. Hawaii (26): Zemljak 18, Castello 3, Hunt 3, Dyer, Biscaro. T — 1:35. Officials — Dan Hironaka, Burt Fuller. A — 2,509.