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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 82° Today's Paper


Warriors playing for position as season winds down

Stephen Tsai

For the Hawaii volleyball team, “10” is not a perfect number.

The Warriors are 10-8 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation — enough victories to clinch a berth in the league’s eight-team postseason tournament. But with four regular-season matches remaining, the Warriors are still pursuing one of the top four spots and the accompanying host’s role for the tournament’s opening round.


» Cal State Northridge (6-18, 4-13) at No. 9 Hawaii (12-11, 10-8)
» 7 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday
» Stan Sheriff Center
» TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)
» Radio: 1500-AM (tomorrow), 1420-AM (Saturday)

“I’m still not satisfied,” said senior setter Nejc Zemljak, whose Warriors (12-11, 10-8) play Cal State Northridge (6-18, 4-13) tomorrow and Saturday in the Stan Sheriff Center. “I knew we were going to make the playoffs. Now that we actually clinched it, it’s a little more comforting.

“But I want to host the first round, so we’re still not done. … I won’t be satisfied if we finish fifth or sixth in the league. I want to be at least fourth.”

The Warriors are tied for sixth with UCIrvine, which beat eighth-place UCLA last night. The Anteaters hold the tiebreaker over Hawaii.

Top-ranked Southern California leads the MPSF at 15-1, followed by Stanford (12-5), Brigham Young (12-6), Long Beach State (10-7) and UC Santa Barbara (9-7).

Hawaii closes the regular season next week with two home matches against USC.

“We can get to 14 (victories),” UH coach Charlie Wade said. “Is that good enough? Maybe. Our goal certainly is, like always, to win the next league match. Every one of them is significant.”

Five Northridge starters completed their eligibility after last season, a year marked by the program’s second NCAA final four appearance.

During one stretch this season, the Matadors started three freshmen. But recently they shuffled the lineup — moving junior setter Matt Stork to outside and starting Kapaa High graduate Danny Rodrick, a junior college transfer at setter.

It was a change for the better. Recently, the Matadors earned a three-set victory over visiting BYU, and served twice for match point in a five-set loss at Stanford.

“They’ve been playing well lately,” Wade said of the Matadors, who are all but eliminated from the MPSF tournament .

The Warriors went 2-2 on their recent 10-day road trip. It was the second four-match trip this year; Hawaii was 1-3 in matches at UCLA and UCIrvine.

“It was fun to be in different atmospheres,” Zemljak said, noting there was snow on the ground outside of BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse. “It was fun to experience a little bit of the cold weather. … But it’s good to play at home.”

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