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Tread Rosenthal helps third-ranked Warriors get a jump on opponents

Mar. 1—Tread Rosenthal is the first to admit he can't hammer balls

Tread Rosenthal is the first to admit he can't hammer balls from the service line as hard as some of his teammates.

That doesn't mean he isn't willing to talk some friendly trash during serving drills at practice.

Through 13 matches, the third-ranked Hawaii men's volleyball team leads the nation in aces, averaging 2.61 per set.

Five players have at least 14 aces this season, with Rosenthal leading the team and ranking ninth in the country averaging 0.54 aces per set.

He hasn't come close to matching the 76 mph velocity that Keoni Thiim hit on match point in a win over Ball State earlier this season, but he's proving to be every bit as effective in his own way.

"Me and Chaz (Galloway ) joke about it all of the time. I think i have the slowest serve on the team, " Rosenthal said Tuesday. "Something about it is hard (to receive ) and as long as it keeps working I'm happy about it."

Service pressure is a big part of the success for the Rainbow Warriors (12-1 ), who have won 11 in a row entering tonight's match against Sacred Heart at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Different players have their own way of frustrating opponents from behind the service line, but the one constant is UH's ability to serve the ball inbounds.

Rosenthal, who didn't jump serve for the U.S. National Team or his club team, has had no problem doing it at the collegiate level.

He's got these massive frying pan-sized hands, " Hawaii coach Charlie Wade said. "He can move it around. He absolutely knows where it's going. We're targeting and he can hit it. He's really consistent. His point scoring is so high right now because he's serving inbounds at 90 % or higher every single night."

Since losing its only match of the season to Loyola-Chicago on opening weekend, when it committed 27 service errors, UH hasn't come close to reaching that number.

It helps that Hawaii has dropped only three sets during its 11-match winning streak.

Rosenthal's 21 aces are one behind Thiim's 22 for the team lead.

Freshman Louis Sakanoko had nine of his 18 aces in one match this season, tying the school record. UH has also gotten production from the service line from opposite Alaka'i Todd (15 aces ) and middle Kurt Nusterer (14 ).

Senior Spyros Chakas has eight aces this season and needs one more to become the ninth player in program history to reach 100 in a career.

"Serving really impacts the game, arguably the most, and in different ways, " Wade said. "Obviously if you get straight aces you're scoring points directly, but that doesn't really happen much against the best teams. Rarely are there guys who are bad receivers, but a lot of times there is someone who is significantly better than everyone else, so if you limit him from touching the ball, their side-out percentage goes way down and our point scoring goes up. We're always looking at those kind of matchups and not only serving hard but with intent."

UH will host the Pioneers (6-9 ) for the first time ever, with the two teams also playing on Sunday.

Sacred Heart is one of three first-time opponents for UH this season. Neither Tusculum nor Missouri S &T were able to take a set off of the Rainbow Warriors.

Hawaii's current winning steak is the second longest in the nation behind Grand Canyon, which jumped to No. 1 in this week's AVCA rankings.

UH will host Grand Canyon during the Outrigger Volleyball Invitational next week.

After Sunday's match, all seven remaining opponents in the regular season are ranked in the top 20.

Next week's tournament will also include No. 5 UC Irvine and No. 15 Lewis.