Hawaii relied on an aggressive block for a 25-16, 25-23, 25-23 volleyball victory over Pacific last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
A crowd of 2,485 watched the Warriors amass 18 blocks, their most in two years. This was more imposing because this season’s sets are played to 25 points, five fewer per set than in the previous 10 seasons.
"We were really focused on our blocking assignments," said UH left-side hitter Joshua Walker, who had two block assists coupled with 12 kills. "We read the scouting reports. (The Tigers) did exactly what we knew they would do."
In Friday’s four-set victory, Pacific opposite attacker Taylor Hughes aggravated the Warriors with high seam shots. Last night, the left-side pin hitter, Florian Gornik, created problems with angle and line shots.
"We got a little creative in the third set," UH head coach Charlie Wade said.
In three rotation turns, UH’s 6-foot-2 setter, Nejc Zemljak, usually is across from the Tigers’ left-side hitter.
"Our pin hitters were giving them fits (Friday)," Pacific coach Joe Wortmann said. "We got some good seams on (Zemljak last night)."
That is when Zemljak and associate head coach Dan Fisher, who calls out the Warriors’ blocking assignments, decided to go with a switch. Zemljak moved to the middle when he was in the front row, matching a UH middle blocker on a Pacific pin hitter.
The Warriors conjured eight blocks in the third set. During a 5-1 stretch, Zemljak contributed to four blocks. He also had a solo rejection of Pacific’s Sean Daley, a 6-foot-7 middle.
"Sometimes you switch it up to give the (other team’s) hitters something different to look at," Walker said. "Nejc is a great blocker when he’s in the middle. He plays beach (volleyball) all of the time. If they want to bounce it on him, that’s a bad idea."
Zemljak said he can touch 10 feet 9 off a vertical jump. "And they were hitting down," he said. "Maybe it was a bad situation for them because I was there."
Hughes, who was blocked five times, had difficulty hitting untouched spikes past the Warriors block. Hughes had 12 kills, but committed nine errors and hit .094.
"We took away his hardest shot," Walker said. "If he wanted to tip it, that was OK."
Middle blockers Jarrod Lofy and Shane Welch each contributed to seven blocks.
The Warriors admittedly played with more energy last night. The Warriors appeared to be weary Friday night after staying up to watch updates of the tsunami threat.
"Who wasn’t watching TV?" Wade said. "You saw those images of the devastation in Japan, and then they say a tsunami is coming here. … Literally, at one point, it was a matter of life and death. As much as everyone was going to sit down and get some rest, it was draining and distracting. We didn’t want to use that as an excuse, but in reality, a lot of people watched TV until 3 o’clock in the morning. I’m glad the guys did a nice job of bouncing back tonight."
NO. 9 HAWAII DEF. NO. 13 PACIFIC 25-16, 25-23, 25-23
TIGERS (7-14, 3-12 MPSF)
RAINBOW WARRIORS (10-9, 8-6 MPSF)
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 — Pacific 1 (Gornik). Hawaii 5 (Walker 3, Welch, Biscaro). Service Errors — Pacific 9 (Daley 2, Gornik 2, Tunnell, Schenk, Hindsley, Ramos, Troy). Hawaii 7 (Walker 3, Zemljak 2, Umlauft, Biscaro). Assists — Pacific 39 (Tunnell 37, Caceres 2). Hawaii 36 (Zemljak 33, Hunt, Walker, Castello). T — 1:40. Officials — Dickson Chun, Dan Hironaka. A — 2,485.
|USC||14||1||.933 — 14-1|
|Long Beach State||8||5||.615||5||10-8|
|UC Irvine||9||7||.563||5 1/2||12-10|
|UC Santa Barbara||9||7||.563||5 1/2||12-9|
|UC San Diego||4||12||.250||10 1/2||7-15|
Hawaii def. Pacific, 25-16, 25-23, 25-23
UC San Diego def. Pepperdine, 25-22, 38-36, 20-25, 22-25, 17-15
USC def. UC Irvine, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 27-25
UC Santa Barbara def. Lewis, 25-21, 25-22, 25-17
Long Beach State def. Penn State, 25-21, 25-21, 27-29, 25-20
Cal State Northridge def. Harvard, 25-16, 25-20, 25-17