UCLA, Hawaii to Play for Men’s Volleyball Title
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA setter Stein Metzger and Hawaii’s outside hitter Yuval Katz, co-players of the year in college volleyball, will lead their teams against each other in the NCAA championship match Saturday.
Defending national champion UCLA swept Lewis University 15-7, 15-8, 15-10 and Hawaii defeated Penn State 15-9, 15-3, 13-15, 15-7 in Thursday’s semifinals on the Bruins’ home court at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA (25-5) extended its home-court winning streak to 23 games in NCAA tournament play and will attempt to defend its title for the first time since capturing four in a row from 1981-84.
``We’ll have to cut down the number of aces they get,″ UCLA coach Al Scates said. ``Hawaii has great servers _ the best serving team we’ve seen _ and they’re great passers. So we have to force them to make some passing mistakes _ and we have to remember where Yuval is.″
Hawaii (27-2) deprived Penn State of a third straight berth in the title game behind 50 assists from setter Eric Pichel and 21 kills by Katz. The duo led the nation in assist average and kill average, respectively.
``There’s two ways to stop Yuval. You can block him or you can dig him,″ Scates said. ``We prefer to block him if at all possible. We’re just going to get in his tendencies and give him the stuff he doesn’t hit very much.″
The Bruins had more trouble than they expected from Lewis, the Division II team from Romeoville, Ill., whose program is only three years old.
UCLA ran off 10 straight points for a 14-4 lead in the opening game, then squandered eight serves before closing the game out with Ben Moselle’s ace.
The Flyers’ late surge helped their confidence in the second game. Lewis trailed 9-8 before the Bruins closed with seven straight points, capping the rally when Lewis’ Jeff Sauck deflected Moselle’s kill out of bounds.
Lewis (31-5) opened a 4-0 lead in the third game, but Moselle and Brian Wells sparked a game-ending 7-1 spurt for UCLA with kills. Ron Stillwell applied the finishing touch with a blocking point against Bart Bachorski.
``We just tried to play to their tendencies, stay disciplined and not chase the hitters,″ Scates said.
``They ran a lot of crossing patterns and flares, where they run along the net and we don’t know exactly they’re going to attack. So we just tried to take the big part of the court and they did make some hitting errors that way.″
Using their quickness to compensate for a lack of size, the Rainbow Warriors scored seven of the first eight points in Game 4 against Penn State (24-6).
Jason Kepner’s kill capped a 5-0 run that brought the Nittany Lions within one. But the rally ended as the Rainbow Warriors responded with the next five points for a 12-6 lead.
After Aaron Wilton scored on a block against Ivan Contreras and Penn State’s Kevin Hourican returned one into the net, Kepner spiked the ball out of bounds.
Naveh Milo capped the pivotal rally with a rejection of Sergio Pampena, and match point resulted in a block by Rick Tune against Contreras.
``We had a few lapses, most notably in Game 3,″ Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. ``But now we have a great opportunity to play for the national title.
``The key for us will be to take UCLA out of their offense as best we can with our serving, and not let their middle hurt us. We need to be more precise with our passing so we can be more compact with our offense.″