By Stephen Tsai
After last week's sweep of BYU on senior night, the lament was that the home volleyball season had ended too soon. That's what happens when matches are missed in January and February.
After last night's loss to Pepperdine, the volleyball season is over — also too soon. That's what happens when matches are missed in January and February.
The Rainbow Warriors won 13 league matches, and that would have been good for a fifth seed in last year's eight-team MPSF playoffs. Instead, the Warriors finished ninth, with a head start on the offseason.
What was the difference? It started with Pacific, UC San Diego and California Baptist. Those three were worse than expected, with their only MPSF victories against each other. That meant the other 10 MPSF teams could have virtually penciled in six victories, much like the old belief that a student earned 200 points for signing his name on the SAT.
If the safe number was 15 for a playoff berth, then a team needed to go 9-9 against the other 10 teams. For UH, that meant earning nine victories in a schedule in which 10 of those 18 matches matches were on the road. (With the exception of UH, MPSF teams play home-and-home schedules against each other each year. Because of Hawaii's distance, for instance, UH and UC Irvine met twice in Honolulu this year but none in Irvine, then play twice next year in Irvine but not in Honolulu.) With UH's struggles on the first night of two-matches road series — it was 1-4 — that put pressure to not let key matches slip away. At a glance, there were three such losses — fifth-set defeats to UC Irvine and Stanford and either match against UC Santa Barbara.
The lesson, coach Charlie Wade said, "is some of those matches back in January and February, you think you've got all year to make it up, and you don't. The MPSF every night is a playoff game."
The Warriors, undersized at nearly every position, played grittily each match. UH, USC and Pepperdine return most of their top players next season. (UH's matches against USC and Pepperdine will be in Honolulu next year.) Those are things to consider during this extended offseason. For this relatively good season, time ran out for the Warriors.
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It rained. The ACT was held at the same time. The Kamehameha prom was that night.
Yet, there was a large turnout for Junior Day on the Manoa campus. Several of the top prospects for the 2015 recruiting class were there, including Saint Louis' Fred Ulu-Perry, considered one of the top offensive linemen in the state.
Ulu-Perry said it was a good experience, and UH is a consideration. He has received eight scholarship offers, but probably will take all five allotted visits before deciding on the weekend before signing day next February.