By KEVIN JAKAHI
The University of Hawaii Warrior volleyball team showed a full-roster supply of depth in an intrasquad scrimmage, and depending on one’s point of view that could be seen as either a good or bad thing.
The starters and backups with mixed alliances between the two tied each other 24-26, 25-22, 20-25, 25-20 on Saturday night at Waiakea High Gym, wrapping things up after two hours of what could best be described as preseason play.
The Warriors (7-20 last season) open their season Jan. 4, hosting BYU in a pair of matches.
The scrimmage was also a fundraiser for the American Heart Association on behalf of former UH swimmer and Waiakea graduate Peter Chi, who died last month of apparent cardiac arrest. More than $900 was raised.
Sophomore outside hitters JP Marks and Johann Timmer played on the starting A team full-time and finished with 19 and nine kills, respectively.
Jace Olsen and Nick West each had 11 kills and Ryan Leung drilled 10 kills while splitting time between the two squads.
Brook Sedore, a general on the B team, slammed 10 kills to lead the second-stringers, who played with hunger in their stomachs and pushed the starters.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea who our top guys are, but one thing is we don’t have a big difference between 10 to 12 players,” UH coach Charlie Wade said. “We have to play as a team for us to do good. We’ve got depth for the first time.
“The good news is we’ve got a lot of guys who can play. The bad news is we don’t have that one ‘Wow’ guy. We’ve got four or five guys who can play on the left side and two or three on the right.”
Wade didn’t need to state the obvious but the Warriors still miss Jonas Umlauft, a two-time All-American who led them to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference semifinals twice and the nation in kills in his two seasons.
The good news on that front is Umlauft isn’t playing professionally, which would cancel his collegiate eligibility. He’s attending school in Germany, studying electrical engineering.
“We’ve had conversations,” Wade said. “If he were to come back it would be one and one, one year to play one season. Something could happen. I’d say it’s 50 percent.
“He’s a once in a lifetime talent. For two years, he led the nation in kills in his first two years. That’s unheard of. Nobody does that. He’s not only a great player, but he’s also a straight A student.”
One reason for his return to Germany was his native country’s engineering program. There’s no general requirements, so students jump right into their field of study, meaning the 6-foot-9 Umlauft is ahead of the curve, compared to UH course work.
Asked about UH’s electrical engineering program, Wade said, “It’s really good.”
If Umlauft were to have a change of heart, the outside hitter would be eligible in 2014 as a senior.
Meanwhile, as a team the Warriors collected 11 aces, entertaining the crowd of 200 or so with jump serves that produced thunderbolts. But on the bad news side, maybe due to Waiakea Gym’s sparkling new lights and refreshed paint on the walls, they served twice as many balls into the net.
That broke the Cardinal rule of serving: A serve into the net is an automatic lost point. At least a ball that goes long has a chance to catch the back line.
It’s the preseason, so at least Wade didn’t need to go jumping up and down in frustration at all the lost points. In fact, the fourth-year coach put on his comedy hat, talking about the fastballs into the net.
“It’s like 95 percent of putts that don’t go in because they’re left short,” he said, warming up for the punchline. “It’s the only call the referee will get right all night long.”
After it was over and Wade was done shaking hands with spectators, he was still smiling and in a good mood. After all, even without Umlauft, the good news is his Warriors are still undefeated and they’ve got a lot of depth.