Extra Point

By Mike Fitzgerald

Monday, April 22, 1996

Rainbows have this rock rocking

THEIR performance, as usual, was exquisite at the Special Events Arena.

The form was excellent, their bodies flowed with emotion and the symmetry completely captured the fascinated audience.

Yes, the dancers in the aisles sure put on an awesome show Saturday night.

And the University of Hawaii men's volleyball team was pretty darn good, too.

OK. Lighten up. It's Monday morning and my head is still pounding from the sounds of the Rainbows' tougher-than-expected dunking of the Pepperdine Waves.

I'll be the first to admit that I know little or nothing about volleyball.

Back when I was growing up in Chicago, it was only played at important social functions, such as a VFW picnic at the forest preserve.

They didn't have volleyball in the city parks for two reasons: You can't play in three feet of snow in the winter. And the nets would be stolen in the summer, along with the poles.

The most unbelievable volleyball shot I had witnessed before moving to Hawaii was by an old pal, Billy "Dirtball" Peterson.

We had set up a net in the backyard of a friend's house who lived in the suburbs and were celebrating his birthday.

"Dirtball" hit a vicious return shot that went sideways and shattered the lone spotlight that illuminated the court.

It immediately ended the game - and we had to drink the rest of the beer in the dark.

So, obviously, I don't know a "set" from a "dig". A "match" was for boxing, or lighting a cigar.

And a "kill" had a much more serious connotation back then - it usually meant a body being fished out of Lake Michigan.

But back to the Rainbows, who have this entire rock we live on rocking.

I was talking to UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida and he confirmed that men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton is now the top candidate to be the next head coach of the UH men's basketball team and the UH baseball team.

"He can even coach them at the same time if he wants," Yoshida said.

JUST kidding. Calm down. Hmmm. It is an idea, though.

In fact, Riley Wallace was in attendance at the standing-room-only gathering Saturday night with a prize player at his side. A college basketball coach trying to impress a potential recruit by taking him to a volleyball match?

Gee, whatever happened to free cars and bags of cash? Only here in Hawaii, folks.

Wilton deserves so much credit. It is amazing how he put together such a talented and personable group.

The king, of course, is Yuval Katz, who again showed how great he is Saturday night. He also made this point: that the league coaches who didn't vote for him as player of the year are jackasses. Make that jealous jackasses.

Sure, he has a lot more experience than most kids coming in, but getting the best possible players within the rules is the object of the recruiting game, boys. So they can read Katz's totals and weep.

How popular is Katz? His father and mother, who were in from Israel to attend a match for the first time Saturday night, were swamped with photo and autograph requests afterward.

In fact, Katz and his teammates are doing what every college guy dreams of: being chased around campus by groups of girls.

It has gotten so wild that Rick Tune and Aaron Wilton are walking around town disguised as Tom Selleck and Robert Redford to avoid the groupies.

Seriously, the UH men's volleyball team has done something once thought impossible these days. They have turned thousands of teen-agers into sports fans, along with everyone else in Hawaii.

The national championship will be their reward.

Mike Fitzgerald's commentary appears every
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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