Posted by: Aly Edge | 3 February 2013

Match report: Hawaii vs. Stanford redux

This is the last Hawaii webcast for a month. Best make the most of the opportunity. After one of the most competitive matches you’re ever gonna see a night ago, both teams come out tonight with something to prove. Stanford with a win tonight have a pretty good chance to take over the #1 national ranking in next week’s poll. Hawaii, as they have most of the season, have another chance to make their effort and performance count good for a W against one of the nation’s best teams.

Interesting to note that Stanford are in different jerseys from last night, but Hawaii remain in their whites (liberos black). I guess it’s cheaper just to bring a second set with you than to do laundry overnight :P

Brook Sedore was the first Warrior to take to the service line, and he showed off his new haircut. Apparently he had had some troubles with his hair falling into his eyes when serving last night, so it’s not just stylish, it’s functional! After trading a few sideouts at first, Stanford went ahead 7-3 at Hawaii’s timeout, the last point of a 4-point run coming on a wide hit from Sedore. Can’t blame the hair for that one.

The Warriors came out of the timeout strong. JP Marks showed some real alertness at the net, cheating over from left-front to pitch in on a triple block of Steven Irvin. He managed to get over there fast enough to keep Irvin from hitting angle, which isn’t easy. The teams traded two and three-point mini-runs as the set wore on, and Stanford edged ahead 15-11 at the automatic timeout. Hey, there’s a reason why last night’s match was three frickin hours long. Cut those automatic timeouts out.

After Hawaii closed to within 2 a few times, Stanford took their first 6-point lead of the set at 21-15 prompting Hawaii’s final timeout. Irvin came up with a big serve that gave Eric Mochalski the easiest ball he could have ever asked for on an overpass. Stanford went ahead as many as 7 at 23-16, but Hawaii did their part to earn a little momentum heading to the second set by closing to within 3 at 23-20. But the momentum may have started to shift the other way again, as Sinisa Zarkovic took a pretty terrible swing at an easy overpass (with back-row blocker James Shaw facing him at the net…he should have just bombed it at him) that went wide. Before the webcast could even finish showing the replay, Stanford claimed their first set point to take it 25-20.

Both teams had poor offensive first sets, with Stanford hitting .040 and Hawaii .033. Ouch!

Hawaii took the first two points of set 2, including a very nice ace for Sedore (the  Stanford back-row tried to persuade the flagger it was out, but to no avail. The Cardinal then took four straight, but Hawaii ran it even again with a long rally where Sedore came up with about half a dozen digs (or so it seemed) followed by an ace from Zarkovic. Tell you what, if nothing else, this Hawaii squad is awfully easy to like, and Sedore especially.

Stanford again went ahead 8-6 with a kill from Shaw on a rally where Hawaii played some excellent hustle defense, but were never able to set their offense the way they’d have liked. More ace serving though, this time from Marks, drew the set even again at 8. Following a few sideouts, Stanford ran off three straight to go ahead 13-10 at Hawaii’s timeout. It was 15-11 Cardinal at the automatic timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Hawaii brought in a little-used sub Aneifre Etim-Thomas. After the sideout, Etim-Thomas rotated to the service line. He got one on serve but then flubbed a dig attempt on the next rally to put Stanford up 16-13. But Stanford bent without breaking; they ran a couple off on serve as Hawaii called time trailing 18-14. Stanford called timeout three points later, for some reason, still holding a 19-16 advantage.

Out of this timeout, Harrison Phelps came in the mach for the Warriors in favor of Zarkovic, the latter hitting zero for the match at 5 kills and 5 errors. Kolby Kanetake also rotated in as libero for Matthew Cheape. Sedore ate up a rare overpass from Stanford’s Shaw to make it 19-18. Shaw’s serving error, too soft to clear the net, sided the Warriors out at 20-19, which brought in Timmer to serve. This time, he kept the ball in, and Hawaii took the point with a big kill from Phelps to tie the match. Sedore gave Hawaii their first lead in a really long time with a right-side kill off the block at 21-20. Stanford, naturally, called time there. One has to remember that last night’s match was a freaking marathon. These subs may be simply be because guys like Zarkovic are gassed.

Oh, the magic of Johann Timmer. Despite the Cardinal having five players in formation for service reception, the New Zealander still managed to ace them to put the Warriors up two. Ramos came up with an iffy set on the next ball, leading the Hawaii attack to hit the pin. That sided the Cardinal out, but they were called for a net violation. Sedore came up with a very nice serve on 23-21 leading to a hitting error on the Stanford side. Replays showed Joby Ramos should have been called for a touch, but hey, sometimes calls just go in your favor. Spencer Haly staved off the first set point for Hawaii by blocking Harrison Phelps, but Sedore found the answer on the right side to send the match to intermission tied at a set apiece.

Hawaii, hitting just .100 through two sets, ended the set on an 11-4 run, which included all five of their aces in the set.

Amidst an even start to set 3, Brian Cook showed some great quickness and agility by sliding under the net to find a wayward ball. He managed to send it back to the Stanford side around the antenna, though Hawaii wound up taking the point anyway. Jake Kneller‘s kill at 5-3 was the first time either side went ahead by two. Marks tried a roll shot on the next ball, but found an easy triple block waiting for him. Hawaii coach Charlie Wade again raised the issue about screening with the down referee.

Ramos sided the Warriors out with the dink at 6-4, but it perhaps demonstrated why it’s a risky play for him. Due to his shorter stature, the angle of the ball when he dumps it means it will land at right about the 3 meter line. It’s very easy for the opposing offense to set themselves up with a ball taken there — it’s basically a free ball. Stanford’s setter Shaw, on the other hand, being 7 inches taller, knocks the ball pretty much straight down when he does this shot. Much harder to set an offense from there.

Ramos followed with an ace, and two big right-side double blocks put the Warriors up for the first time in the set at 7-6. Stanford ran back ahead at 8-7 following kind of a poor set choice from Ramos, as he went to the right pin with Marks — and everybody in the arena could see it coming. Sure enough, it resulted in an easy double block. The Cardinal went up 9-7, and the Warriors knotted it again at 9, including a really great shot from Marks where misdirected the Cardinal defense by looking one way and hitting the other. On the 9-all point, Hawaii looked to have the sideout with a Stanford hitting error, but the flagger ruled a touch when the up referee didn’t. The crowd didn’t like it. Replays were inconclusive. Hawaii drew even at 11, Stanford went up two again at 13-11, and extended their run to 15-11 at the automatic timeout.

After siding out, the Warriors rotated Sedore to the service line. The Stan Sheriff Center ran quiet, except for two dudes who shouted while Sedore was in his run-up. Cause and effect or not, Sedore shanked the serve into the net. The rally ending 17-13 involved some great defense on both sides, finally ending with Hawaii blocking the ball out for a kill for Steven Irvin. On 18-15, Stanford got a point they probably shouldn’t have, as the ball was ruled live when they hit it directly into the net — Davis Holt didn’t touch it. The play went on, and Stanford got the kill. Marks’ third service ace, the sixth of the match for Hawaii, brought the Warriors back within two at 19-17. Hawaii took their first charged timeout of the set trailing 21-17 after Sedore’s long hit wasn’t given a touch call.

Hawaii went to Timmer out of the timeout, at 21-18. He came up with a good serve, but Stanford had a better pass, and Stanford’s serving specialist Madison Hayden was the beneficiary with a kill of his own. Sedore rotated to the service line at 22-19, but he just looked a little off on his form. His serve was easily fielded, and it led to a Cardinal kill. Hawaii burned their last timeout down 23-19.  Max Wechsung rotated in for Ramos out of the timeout, but whatever strategery Hawaii attempted was fruitless, as Stanford finished off the set 25-21.

Hayden, in for Brian Cook, started set 4 at the service line for the Cardinal. On one of his first balls of the set, Ramos and Cheape both dove from the back row for a pancake dig. They kept the ball alive, but Cheape had to rotate out in favor of Kanetake a little later because he sustained a cut to his hand during that attempt. The set started off evenly amid little two and three-point runs on each side. At 5-5, Marks tried valiantly to keep a wayward ball alive by kicking it, which is always weird to see. He may have kicked it a little too hard, though, as no teammate was able to play it back over the net. Cheape re-entered the match at 7-6 Cardinal with his hand taped up. Stanford targeted him with their serve, but his pass was perfect, leading to a sneaky little kill for Holt up the middle.

Back and forth the set went, very tight and even. Hawaii took their first lead at 9-8, and Mochalski’s hitting error a couple of balls later put the Warriors ahead 11-9. Stanford ran it even again at 12. When Hawaii were able to execute properly with their passing, Ramos’ sets were pretty much impeccable. His service ace brought it to the automatic timeout at 15-13 Warriors. After two big kills from Sedore, the latter of which a tad contentious as the up referee called a touch a bit late, Stanford took their first charged timeout trailing 18-15.

Timmer came up with his uncharacteristic second service error on the first ball after the timeout. His couterpart for Stanford, Hayden, aced Marks on the next ball to draw the Cardinal within a point at 18-17, but Hawaii had the answer to go back ahead three at 20-17. Stanford burned their final timeout there. Brook Sedore’s run on serve continued coming out of the timeout as Taylor Averill stuffed him at the net to put the Warriors up four. Sedore netted the next serve, but hey, job done. Stanford ate into the deficit a bit more, and Hawaii burned their first timeout of the 4th at 22-20.

Hawaii came up with their 23rd point on an odd play, as it looked like they were going to overpass, but the shrimpy Ramos skied to redirect the ball as it was over the net, catching pretty much everyone off guard as the Stanford side looked like they were planning to do the same, but never did. On another awkward play, Stanford closed to 23-22, and Hawaii called their last timeout. Hawaii looked as though they had set point earned a couple of times, but Stanford’s scrambling defense kept the ball alive. They managed to knot the set at 23 and then gain match point at 24-23 when a UH free ball went long. Marks staved off the first on the left side, and we went off to extra points again. Irvin’s 20th kill of the match, on a back set, got Stanford match point #2, but Marks evened it again — this time on the right side.

Marks then rotated to the service line, and let loose a good serve. Sakaida came up with a good pass, leading to a good hit, but Hawaii’s Cheape had an even better dig on the other side (a “Cheape dig” ?) leading to a kill for Sedore. The Cardinal came up with a block, but Hawaii wisely decided not to play the ball, and watched it sail long. And wouldn’t you know it, but the Warriors converted their next attempt at set point to send once more, inexorably, to the race to 15.

Hawaii made a very interesting change in their starting lineup to start the fifth set — supersub Johann Timmer came in as a middle, in place of Davis Holt. And wouldn’t you know it, the ball found the new guy — as he and Sedore came up with a double block. Zarkovic gave the Warriors a quick 2-0 advantage. Chris McLachlin on commentary noted that Hawaii’s serving rotation for the fifth lined up with Marks (who served out the 4th), Timmer (supersub), Sedore (former supersub and one of the only Hawaii hitters having a good night), and Zarkovic (quite a guy to have as your fourth-best server).

At 2-1, Shaw made a curious mistake trying to play the ball off the block, but his opponent at the net was Ramos, 7 inches shorter than him. Ramos tried to block the ball, but if he had, it would have gone out off him. As it was, the ball landed out off Shaw. And then Timmer rotated to the service line — and uncorked a gorgeous serve for an ace.

Stanford got one point on their serve to close within a point, but Sedore successfully sided the Warriors out with a right-side kill to rotate himself back to the service line. Zarkovic came up with the kill on the next rally after a long cross-court set from Sedore…and then Tebowed.

Stanford called their first timeout of the decider trailing 6-3. Mochalski at the service line at first came out strong, an ace closing the Cardinal to within a point at 6-5, but he netted the next ball to make it 7-5. Irvin got the kill on the next rally, to put him one kill shy of 50 for the weekend. But Shaw’s serve went long to make it 8-6 Warriors at the side change. Cook’s hitting error on the next rally made it 9-6, and Marks gave the Warriors a huge 4-point advantage at 10-6 at Stanford’s last timeout.

Hawaii, and Marks, continued strong out of the timeout, with the sophomore stuffing Irvin on the right side. Cook found the floor on the next ball, but at that point, Hawaii could be perfectly content to play sideout volleyball. After Mark’s hitting error made it 11-8, Hawaii took their first timeout of the set. The teams traded two service errors back from the timeout, but that’s advantage Hawaii at this point. Marks went off the block and out, off Stanford’s least experienced player Hayden, to put Hawaii on the cusp at 13-9. Marks netted his serve on the next ball.

Hawaii made it to Aloha Ball at 14-10 after a right-side block for Zarkovic. Timmer rotated in to serve, but sent the ball wide and long for his uncharacteristic third service error of the match, but Sedore from the right side got the job done and sent the Hawaii fans home happy.

Hawaii d. #3 Stanford (20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 27-25, 15-11)

There’s endless superlatives one can dole out after two unbelievable matches in two nights, but here’s one you might not hear or see much:

Thank you.

Hawaii volleyball, Stanford volleyball, thank you.

As a dedicated fan of the sport, this was thrilling. This was amazing. I’m so proud of the effort of both sides. This is why I’m a sports fan. My god, this is why I’m a sports fan. Not millionaires bickering with billionaires. This heart. This passion. This drive and determination. This is why sports are worth it.

And this match — this freaking match — 24 hours after that marathon last night. I’m just in awe. Screw that football game tomorrow night — THIS was the sporting event of the weekend.


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