Lincoln Memorial faces monumental task against No. 2 Hawaii volleyball
The “well-oiled machine” that is the No. 2-ranked Hawaii volleyball team returns home after its first road trip, continuing its mission of growing the game.
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The “well-oiled machine” that is the No. 2-ranked Hawaii volleyball team returns home after its first road trip, continuing its mission of growing the game. The Rainbow Warriors used all 12 players on the travel roster both nights when sweeping host Queens, a second-year program, twice in Charlotte, N.C.
This week, Hawaii hosts third-year program Lincoln Memorial, the Warriors’ final two matches before opening up the Big West season on the road next week at No. 3 UC Irvine. The Railsplitters (7-4) were swept by the Warriors at last year’s Grow The Game Challenge in Nashville, Tenn.
“This is an opportunity to see where we stack up, to see if the hard work the guys are putting in is moving in the correct direction for the young program,” second-year LMU coach John Cash said. “We have been close a lot this season, but that’s not what we’re wanting. Growth is a big thing.
“(Hawaii is) a well-oiled machine that knows one another very well. Charlie (Warriors coach Wade) does a great job of gaining cohesion and it shows in their style of play.”
Hawaii continues to be the epitome of efficiency, leading the country in hitting percentage (.472) as well as kills per set (14.58), assists per set (13.17) and opponent hitting percentage (.173). The Warriors have three of the top nine in hitting percentage — Rado Parapunov (No. 2, .524), Colton Cowell (4, .471) and Stijn van Tilburg (9, .449) — the beneficiaries of the setting of senior Joe Worsley, second nationally in assists (11.29). Sophomore libero Gage Worsley is No. 1 in digs (2.71).
This week’s matches at the Stan Sheriff Center also feature two of the top blockers in the game: Hawaii junior middle Patrick Gasman (1, 1.684) and LMU junior middle Pedro Carvalho (2, 1.625).
The Warriors are off to their best start in Wade’s 10 seasons. With eight sweeps already posted, the Warriors are closing in on the record of 10 straight-set victories set in 2017. The mark for consecutive sets won is 32, also set two years ago; two sweeps this week would tie it.
The Railsplitters are undefeated at home (5-0) but 2-4 away from 1,500-seat Mary Mars Gym. Their losses have been to Ohio State, USC, Grand Canyon and King, the latter in five.
“No slouches in that group,” Cash said. “Our home court is very loud and definitely an advantage. We owe that to our fans. There must be a perceived value or they will not show up. So far, so good on that one.”
LMU has drawn 1,461 in five home matches in Harrogate, Tenn. Hawaii is averaging a national-best 3,607 in its five home matches.
LMU currently competes in the Independent Volleyball Association, along with Queens, Alderson Broaddus and Coker. The plan, Cash said, is to have the IVA’s name changed to the South Atlantic Conference, a move would add a sixth conference for men’s volleyball in the next two years.
Hawaii’s commitment to helping fledgling programs will continue next season with the home-and-home exchange that has the Warriors at LMU next January.
“Very excited to say the least,” Cash said.
Friday has been designated “Pink Night,” with fans encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness. Sunday is “Youth Night,” where up to four complimentary tickets are available with each adult ticket purchase. The free tickets are available only on Sunday at the box office while supplies last.
MEN’S COLLEGIATE VOLLEYBALL
>> Who: Lincoln Memorial (7-4) at No. 2 Hawaii (8-0)
>> When: Friday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 5 p.m.
>> Where: Stan Sheriff Center
>> TV: None.
>> Radio: Friday, 1500-AM; Sunday, 1420-AM