University of Hawaii senior Rado Parapunov reaches 1,000 career kills in sweep of UC Irvine

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·3 min read

Feb. 23—Fueled by "Rocket " Rado Parapunov, the Hawaii volleyball team soared to Monday's 25-14, 25-13, 28-26 victory over UC Irvine in the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.

Parapunov hammered 15 kills—the first was the 1, 000th of his UH career, the 15th was on an aloha-ball set from Jakob Thelle in extended play.

"A thousand kills means I've been here a long time, " said Parapunov, a fifth-year senior from Bulgaria. "It means what I'm doing helps the team. We got a lot of wins. The thing we're focusing on is not statistical, but the winning."

Charlie Wade said Parapunov has played alongside All-Americans during title chases. "It's not like he's been carrying the load by himself every night, " Wade said. "To get to that number on a team that's had a pretty balanced offense is impressive."

The Warriors won both matches between Big West teams in a season-opening series that does not count toward league standings. While the Warriors dominated Monday's first two sets—two attack errors in their first 41 swings—Parapunov was needed for the dramatic finish.

Parapunov, a 6-foot-9 opposite, found points from both pins and D-set swings from the back right. In the third set, the Anteaters scored four points in a row to lead, 24-22. But Parapunov hit consecutive shots off UCI fingertips to tie it at 24.

"When they have a set point, when you get the ball, the only thing that comes to your head is, 'I need to score 100 %, '" Parapunov said. "You have to be more aggressive than you are, and just make the right decision."

It was 26-all when UH outside hitter Spyros Chakas sizzled a crossing shot from the left side. Parapunov's ensuing slam closed the match.

The entire night, Parapunov quickly analyzed the block and backrow alignment in search of ricochets or a vacated court. Twice he managed to tool shots off 7-foot middle Scott Stadick's hands.

"The process is just get your feet there, hit at the highest point, and just analyze who you have as a blocker, " Parapunov said. "I was trying to avoid Stadick as much as I could. Sometimes I had to go through him. The end is just hit as fast as you can, and hit it high. And just have a little bit of luck, of course."

For most of the match, the bottom line was the service line. The Warriors powered serves that the Anteaters could not consistently pass inside the 3-meter line. That proved to be a hiccup in relaying quick sets. Stadick was a static middle, being fed five sets while converting three swings into points.

The Warriors scored on 50 % of the sequences initiated by their serves. In the second set, Chakas was summoned to replace Chaz Galloway. While Galloway is a productive attacker as the second left-side hitter, Chakas is a better blocker and server. Chakas served seven consecutive points to close the second set, with some of the jumpers touching 69 mph. Wade indicated roles will be found for Galloway and Chakas.

"Those guys have been battling, and they've been back and forth in the starting lineup, " Wade said. "They've both got some stuff they do really well, and they contribute in a different way. And that's always going to be kind of the feel of that match and what we need that moment."

UCI's Joel Schneidmiller had a team-high 11 kills, but made eight attack errors and hit.094.