Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

W A H I N E _ V O L L E Y B A L L

Home is where
Wahine want to be

The University of Hawaii
women's volleyball team hopes
to play hosts in this year's
NCAA Championship

By Cindy Luis


Forget the frequent flyer miles. For once, the University of Hawaii women's volleyball team doesn't want to be traveling in December.

With the NCAA Championship at the Stan Sheriff Center Dec. 16-18, the Wahine hope that they'll be home. And playing poor hosts.

One on-line publication has Hawaii as the preseason favorite. A fifth national title seems possible, but the "ifs" are big ones, beginning with the setter's position.

Hawaii finished its spring season with mixed reviews and minus a potential starter. Incoming junior Tehani Miyashiro, penciled in as the starting setter, has asked for her release and intends to transfer.

"She wanted to be a full-time player and there was no guarantee we could do that for her," Wahine coach Dave Shoji said.

Instead, Shoji hopes that high school all-American Jennifer Carey can pick up Hawaii's system quickly. The freshman will arrive at Manoa in August with impressive credentials but no Division I experience.

Miyashiro was the setter at the UNLV Preseason Tournament, where the Wahine went 0-3 against UNLV, Penn State and Southern Cal. Miyashiro, the all-WAC defensive specialist as a freshman in 1997, did not make the most recent trip to the USC Spring Tournament; graduating senior Nikki Hubbert was the setter and Hawaii finished 3-0 against Fresno State, Illinois and Arizona.

"Some teams are forced to play (outgoing) seniors in the spring if they have no other options," said Shoji. "It's not the ideal situation, but sometimes it's necessary."

The Wahine also used graduating senior Leah Karratti to fill out the roster. Junior Heidi Ilustre, a hitter, had shoulder surgery and was unable to play, and freshman middle Veronica Lima was on the bench resting her back.

The remaining returnees got plenty of playing time at the two tournaments. Junior Heather Bown, who had been training with the U.S. national team, saw considerable action in the back row.

"Heather's much improved in the back row, passed well during spring ball," said Shoji. "We want her to stay in the lineup and we need her to hit out of the back row."

Bown, an early contender for Player of the Year honors, leaves later this month for Lake Placid, N.Y., and training for the World University Games. Her summer travel plans include exhibitions in Canada and Chicago; it's then on to Spain for the international competition.

"It's super fun for me to be passing because it's new and I'm still learning," said Bown. "I think everyone on the team got better during the spring. Dave's emphasis was on passing and at the SC tournament our passing was much better."

Both Shoji and Bown remarked on the performance of middle Adrianne Bradley, the only other freshman last season on the Wahine team that finished 32-3.

Hawaii expects to have at least two other freshmen this season besides Carey. They are two-time state player of the year Lily Kahumoku of Kamehameha, a 6-2 outside hitter, and 5-8 setter-hitter Margaret Vakasausau of University.

Also on the roster will be Brigham Young-Hawaii transfer Andrea Gomez Tukuafu, who married Rainbow volleyball player Torry Tukuafu last month. She is a 5-8 junior hitter.

"She'll really add to our experience," said Shoji.

Also back will be hitter Jessica Sudduth, middle Jennifer Roberts and defensive specialist Shelly Kim.

"I think everyone made progress," said Shoji. "That's what spring is for. "As for fall, we may struggle early but our goal is to be home in December for all rounds. We should win our league. We need to win our league. And we've got to play well to get into the top four."

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