Rainbows open key volleyball series at BYU

March 24, 2011, 7:19 AM HST · Updated March 24, 7:19 AM
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By Fred Guzman

Normally, tonight’s showdown between the University of Hawaii and Brigham Young would be regarded as a big sporting event on the Provo campus. In fact, the Cougars lead the nation in attendance, averaging nearly 3,000 fans per match at the Smith Arena.

But the key Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match is being totally overshadowed by the Sweet Sixteen basketball battle between the Jimmer Fredette-led Cougars and Florida in the Southeast Regional in New Orleans.

The basketball game is set for a 1:27 tip off, Hawaii time. To avoid a scheduling conflict with the telecast, the start of the volleyball match was moved back an hour, to 4 p.m., Hawaii time

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Hawaii and BYU are tied for third place at 10-6 in the highly competitive MPSF, widely regarded as the nation’s premier men’s volleyball conference. The two teams will square off again tomorrow.

The Cougars have dominated against UH at home, winning 16 of the past 19 matches in Provo.

Hawaii is led by a two-pronged hitting attack featuring All-American Jonas Umlauft and Joshua Walker. The key for UH is likely to be its service game, which can be wildly inconsistent. When the Bows serve well, they generally win. When they don’t, bad things tend to happen.

UH BASEBALL: The weekend baseball series between Hawaii and nationally 13th-ranked Cal State Fullerton at Les Murakami Stadium has lost some of its luster and star power. That’s because Titans’ coach Dave Serrano has suspended eight players, including four starters, for the series for violating unspecified team rules.

Fullerton will be without pitchers Colin O’Connell and Ryan Ackland, designated hitter Carlos Lopez, utility players Walker Moore and Casey Watkins, shortstop Richy Pedroza, catcher Zach Tanida and third baseman Joe Terry for the series that opens tomorrow.

Pedroza is the team’s leading hitter, with a .392 average and 17 runs scored. Lopez is third on the team with a .315 average and has started 14 games. O’Connell is the team’s No. 3 starter, posting a 2-1 record with a team-best ERA of 1.42 among the starters. The suspended players will be reinstated for next Tuesday’s game against UCLA.

The Titans are 12-7 and are coming off a 7-3 win over No. 6 Arizona State in their most recent outing. A four-game sweep of Centenary over the weekend helped Hawaii improve its record to 11-9 and extend its winning streak to five games.

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