Maui fans pack War Memorial for UH volleyball win
By Fred Guzma
Take a bow, Maui fans. You were the real winners on Saturday night. As a result of your enthusiastic support, don’t be at all surpised if the Valley Isle ends up hosting additional University of Hawaii athletic events in the future.
A loud, ti leaf-waving overflow crowd of 2,047 fans packed War Memorial Gym, providing inspiration for the Hawaii men in an error-filled but exciting 26-24, 18-25, 25-19, 25-20 non-conference volleyball victory over California Baptist.
Adding to the great atmosphere was the presence of a travel party that included cheerleaders, promotions and announcers that are part of matches at the Stan Sheriff Center, with the Maui High band capable filling in for their UH counterparts.
Hawaii coach Charlie Wade described the environment as “great,” and he wasn’t merely being polite. The sentiment was shared and expressed by players on both teams.
Possibly because of the reduced space behind one of the end lines, the teams struggled with their serves. There were a total of 41 service errots, including 23 by Hawaii.
Still, UH managed to come up with the big plays when they most mattered to sweep a the series against the defending NAIA national champs. Hawaii won Friday’s match at The Stanley in three games.
Leading UH were Jonas Umlauft with 20 kills, Joshua Walker with 17 and defensive specialist Nick Castello came up with nine digs.
UH SOFTBALL: Eighth-ranked Hawaii opened the softball season in impressive fashion, winning all five games in the Paradise Classic.
The Rainbow Wahine closed out the tournament on Saturday with a 5-1 win over Southern Utah thanks to a grandslam by Melissa Gonzalez and completed the title run with an 8-0 mercy-rule victory over UC Davis as Stephanie Ricketts posted her third win of the event.
UH, most noted for its power-hitting prowess after slugging a national-record 158 homers last season, posted a team ERA of 0.44 while holding its five opponents to a .143 batting average. Hawaii outscored its opponents 32-3.
The Wahine close their season-opening homestand today against Texas State at 5 p.m. before traveling to Las Vegas to take part in the high-profile Desert Classic that starts on Friday followed by another major tournament in Southern California.
UH HOOPS: The UH men return to action tonight, hosting Nevada. Following an 0-5 start in the conference, Hawaii has won four of its last six WAC games and are seventh in the league. The top eight teams qualify for the WAC tournament.
WAHINE HOOPS: Following a pair of encouraging home wins, Hawaii shot a dismal 23.3 percent from the field and suffered its most lopsided loss of the WAC season when it was beaten 69-42 at Nevada. The loss dropped UH to 8-16 overall and 2-9 in the WAC. UH dropped into a tie with Boise State for eighth place with five regular-season games remaining. The last-place school among nine WAC teams is left home from the WAC tournament in Las Vegas next month. The Wahine, who has lost 18 straight away games, remains on the road for games at NMS on Tuesday and at league-leading LaTech on Thursday.
UH BASEBALL: Hawaii opens its season on Friday with the first of a four-game series against Oregon, ranked No. 9 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason Top 40 poll. The Rainbows are No. 38.