Thursday, September 30, 1999
WAC now weak
The Wahine are favorites farBy Cindy Luis
and away, and a 14-0 season
would be no shock
The Western Athletic Conference has become the Weak Athletic Conference when it comes to women's volleyball. When half of the schools bolted to form the Mountain West Conference, those teams took more than half of the WAC's power with it.
Only Hawaii is ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25. Wahine coach Dave Shoji scheduled as tough as he did - five ranked teams in the first 25 days - to compensate for the WAC's low power rating.
"The challenge for us the next few weeks is to get better individually, and we may have to do that in the (practice) gym,'' said Shoji. "I don't think we're going to find the intense competition that we've been having again for a while.''
That was anticipated from the beginning. When the WAC coaches voted in the preseason poll, Hawaii received seven of eight first-place votes.
The only reason the Wahine weren't unanimous? Shoji couldn't vote for his own team.
Conference play opens this week for seven of the eight teams. A look at the WAC:
HAWAII (11-0):The defending champion Wahine are 43-1 in regular-season matches over three years in the league. No one would be surprised if they go 14-0 this year.
Senior Heather Bown leads the country in blocks (2.33 bpg) and is a leading contender for national Player of the Year. Setter Jennifer Carey and outside hitter Lily Kahumoku have a legitimate shot at Freshman of the Year honors.
Junior Jessica Sudduth and sophomore Veronica Lima are solid all-around players. The Wahine are versatile, with seniors Heidi Ilustre and Jennifer Roberts able to come up with big games. Aven Lee and Margaret Vakasausau lead the defense.
Hawaii's biggest challenge may come from San Jose State, but the teams don't meet until Oct. 29. That's four weeks to get even better.
SAN JOSE STATE (13-1):The Spartans have won nine straight and are off to their best start since going 15-1 in 1990. Joslynn Gallop leads the conference in kills (4.76 kpg) and hitting percentage (.374) and is second in aces.
SJS's only loss was to Washington State. The Spartans had an impressive win over former top 25 team San Diego, the defending West Coast Conference champion.
SMU (10-7):The Mustangs, who fell to Houston last night, feature all-WAC performer Melissa Godwin (Jr., OH), who had 25 kills last night against the Cougars. Senior setter Leslie Olson leads the WAC in assists while senior hitter Erin Pryor, this week's WAC Player of the Week, is ninth all-time on the conference kill list.
TULSA (6-5):The Golden Hurricane have the toughest serving team as well as the toughest server (senior middle Juliet Klemm).
Tulsa returns four starters from last year's 11-16 team, the school's winningest since 1990. Junior hitter Kristien Van Lierop broke the school record for digs last week with 40; she is in UT's career top five in every offensive category.
The Hurricane were swept by Wichita State (3-8) Tuesday.
FRESNO STATE (6-7):The Bulldogs come into Sunday's match with Hawaii after a loss to No. 6 Stanford on Tuesday.
FSU, coached by Punahou grad Lindy Vivas, is led by senior setter Diann Aufdermaur, who become the third player in school history to record 3,000 assists.
Seniors Anamie Buckelew (6-1, OH) and Adrienne Sankey (6-0, MB) anchor a solid block. Freshman Lindsay Closs (6-1, MB) has been a pleasant surprise, leading the team in aces while second in blocks; sophomore Shauna McQuaid (6-1, MB) is the team leader in blocks.
RICE (8-9):The Owls are trying to regroup after losing junior setter Nil Kalagoglu for the season and all-WAC hitter Karolina Zelinka for the next month.
Rice will be hard-pressed to repeat last year's 23-10 record. Injuries and graduation have left the Owls thin and young. Senior hitter Kelly Smith has the most experience and leads the team in kills. Junior Klara Zelinka is the WAC leader in digs.
TCU (6-8):The Horned Frogs, who take on Hawaii tomorrow, have a senior class for the first time in the program's four-year history. Hitter Jill Pape is TCU's all-time leader in virtually every statistical category and has played in every match TCU has ever played.
Hitter Marci King was the co-Freshman of Year in the Mountain Division last season. Sophomore blocker Allison Lynch is among the WAC leaders in hitting percentage (.323) and blocks (1.02 bpg).
UTEP (2-10):The Miners have a new coach in Revis Ward-Daggett to lead a fairly young team (two seniors). Back are senior blocker Eryn Polhamus, senior hitter Catherine Porter and junior hitter Stacy Zimmerman, a three-year starter.
Ka Leo O Hawaii