No. 1 Hawaii varsity beats alumni in a hang-loose volleyball contest
Past, present and future came together for a hang-loose night of hanging together in celebration of Hawaii men’s volleyball.
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Past, present and future came together for a hang-loose night of hanging together in celebration of Hawaii men’s volleyball. The alumni gave as good as they got from the top-ranked team in the country, riding the pride and arms of their history Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. In the end, youth prevailed … but not by much … with the varsity pulling out the 25-21, 18-25, 33-31 victory.
To be fair, Hawaii’s regular starters did not play with four used as officials, including senior opposite Rado Parapunov as the down referee and senior middle Patrick Gasman as a linesman. But it was competitive and entertaining for the estimated crowd of 1,200, an attendance figure that was the legal limit in Hawaii’s former home: Klum Gym.
For Gasman, it was a glimpse of the future, both the program and his.
“If I’m around next year, I definitely plan on playing,” Gasman said. “I loved watching our younger guys do their thing, but especially I loved watching our alumni. After a while they shake the rust off and you see glimpses of what was.
“And you see the support for this program — so many people showed up to watch basically jungle volleyball for two hours.”
It was prime time for Hawaii’s younger players. Freshman hitter Cole Hogland led the varsity with 12 kills, with freshman hitter Devon Johnson adding nine kills and freshman middle Danny Wong in on six blocks.
Warriors assistant coach Josh Walker, targeted all night on serve and on attacks, answered with a match-high 17 kills. Mauli’a La Barre finished with 10 kills and defensive specialist-turned-outside hitter Mikey China added six kills, two coming at the end of Set 3 that featured the teams trading nine match points.
“They had more All-Americans out there than we did,” Hawaii coach Charlie Wade said of alumni Walker (second team 2010) and La Barre (second team 2005).
“It was a fun night and we were able to give some of our guys who haven’t had a chance to play some court time.”
The alumni had their chances for the win, leading Set 3 by as much as 17-13. Two aces by freshman Alakai’ Todd helped the varsity take a 20-18 lead, only to have the alumni tie it at 23. It was tied eight more times, with the alumni taking the last of their match points at 30-29 and at 31-31 the varsity used two errors by the alumni to finish it out.
“I thought we’d pull it out,” La Barre said. “It’s always fun for the alumni to be back in the arena, you play at a more focused level. The alumni are still hungry. It brings back old memories. I had a blast.
“I think for the (varsity reserves) it’s kind of a litmus test to see where they’re at and where they need to be to get that starting spot.”
Hawaii concludes its alumni weekend with Sunday’s A’o a Koa Scholarship Fundraiser. State senator Kai Kahele, who played briefly Friday night, will receive the Pae Makaukau Recognition Award.
The Warriors (9-0) return to competition with the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Invitational, Feb, 6-8. The field includes Queens, Concordia-Irvine and UC Irvine.