best part of the day (cause it sucks losing) was simply getting chicken & California Chicken Cafe in Woodland Hills after....
...so sitting there waiting for the food, a woman with a NCAA shirt also comes up to order, and of course we see each others gear, her aunt (a Long Beach alum) flew out from New Jersey for the finals, just because, and her niece took her, she at least got to see the UCLA match, always a nice thing to see the Beach get on the big stage - and the NCAA didn't need UCLA to have a great environment for a championship, and hopefully Tyler can work some magic to get Long Beach on the map in Decembers
we were walking down Westwood blvd about noon near the village, and Wade was in his sweats taking a jog and gave a wave, lol, bastard!
Good summarization of the match. Some comments:
* HI almost flawless. Perhaps not recognized often enough was that they came in defending their national championship
* As you stated, HI had so many out of system conversions into points
* The inability to put up a block created a lot of pressure on LB's back row all night long.
* In that erasure of the 10-5 lead in the second set, there were three unforced errors....two tight/overpasses and a swing into the net. Maybe even a second muffed kill attempt into the net
* Sitting next to someone in the know, Aiden did have a hand laceration
* With roster returnees on both sides, shapes up to be another HI/LB battle next year. Here's hoping Thulle signs a pro contract in Europe!!!!!
#1 or #2 all season long. NCAA finalist - beat UCLA in remarkable fashion on their home floor again
a remarkable phenom with Nikolov, and overall a great showing
a dissapointing day no doubt - maybe the most was just that we weren't able to make it close and the LB crowd never got fully engaged like the Hawaii counterparts
huge kudos to the Hot Dog again, unlike UCLA, couldn't implore the Beach to overcome, and 300-400 students can't outshout 3000 Hawaii fans, especially situated right next to them, with that incessant drumbeat from their throngs
one thing that struck me, was our dance team is fabulous this year, but they are a dance team, not cheerleaders, they almost look lost at a VB match ...because they can't really dance!- Hawaii had their yell squad, but didn't bring their dancers
the year long experiment, and what to do with our 4 middle blockers - was in full display this week (and year) - first Marocchi starting vs. UCLA seemed out of the blue, I almost get it, then in the 2nd guessing department, maybe overacting a bit and not going with our best blocker in Moody for the finals, and by the time he came in, couldn't help get the block going. Unedrstandable Knipe went with more serving and Towrie after UCLA, and for the very first point worked like a charm as he got the 'back to back' ace carryover from Thursday....bus alas, it was all downhill after that first raucous point and reality set in
the key turning point, up 10-5 and Thelle's serving run, especially that ace specifically targetted at Nikolov - to me that point was key to killing our momentum - the Big West POY had the last word over the AVCA POY.
Hawaii played fantastic, almost flawless, our serve I thought was good, we got them to make bad receptions, but Hawaii made some of the best bump sets from all over the floor to get their OHs good swings, and we just could not get decent blocks on so many of them especially cause we had not reason not to get good blocks
1 block in 3 sets, and that's the scorecard
I do wonder if Knipe's hand wasn't 100% after that 5th set injury vs. UCLA, just not a great match, and he just made a few more poor sets or decisions than usual
Hawaii was relentless and deserving - It's not like we served poorly, or receiving was atrocious, just every rally point was pretty much all Hawaii, relentless at every position, and receiving miscues they turned into quality out of system attacks
all but Moody come back, maybe let some time pass
I do wonder if Holdaway, Marocchi, and Olivier will return for certain for their extra year of elgibility, hoping they do ....and wouldn't surprise if one or a couple move on.
we had a great block all year, even with a revolving door, and what Knipe does with Towrie assuming as he trains to get quicker as a blocker
then the highly rated setter/opp recruit Rosenblum who red-shirted and how he assimilates into the team next year
on paper we return a potential juggernaut, and so does Hawaii, just will have to develop a much better setter-middle consistency especially next year