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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, April 7, 2000

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

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Torry Tukuafu and Andrea Gomez-Tukuafu are the
de facto leaders of the UH volleyball ohana.

A perfect match

Torry Tukuafu and his wife Andrea
made sure the new crop of teammates
got to know each other

By Dave Reardon


Torry Tukuafu and Andrea Gomez-Tukuafu will probably wait a while to start their own family.

For now, the husband-and-wife University of Hawaii volleyball players happily settle for married, with teammates.

The Rainbows' deep ohana feel is surprising, considering they underwent a huge personnel makeover after last season.

And team members say the Tukuafus deserve a lot of credit for the ohana feeling.

"At the beginning of the year, they did a lot of things off the court to make us closer," said setter Stefan Krejci, one of several new players. "They had barbecues at their place, and he's the first guy who took me to the North Shore."


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As one of the team's few returnees, Tukuafu took it upon himself to welcome the newcomers.

"We've got guys from all over the world, from different cultures and different countries. In order for us to respect each other on the court we have to respect each other as people first," Tukuafu said. "We've still got a way to go, but we're getting there."

Senior defensive specialist Russell Lockwood looks up to Tukuafu - and not just because the junior hitter is five inches taller at 6-foot-5.

"He's sort of like a big brother, even though I'm a little older than him," Lockwood said. "He's one of the best friends I've ever had, and he's one of those guys who is definitely a role model for the younger players."

Tukuafu is also a tireless worker. That's one of the attributes that attracted Andrea when they met as volleyball camp coaches in Utah several years ago.

"We had a lot in common other than volleyball," Gomez-Tukuafu said. "We're both hard workers and we both come from big families."

They married last year, when Hawaii was on a trip to Brigham Young. This worked well, since much of Tukuafu's family lives in Utah, and Gomez is from Idaho.

Gomez-Tukuafu transferred from Brigham Young-Hawaii. She sat out last fall and lost her junior year because she'd already redshirted.

The Tukuafus live in the Kaimuki area now. Torry's younger brother, Jesse, lives with them and plays volleyball and basketball at St. Louis School.

"We lived on the North Shore (last year), and Torry had to drive every day," Gomez-Tukuafu said. "I was a starter on a very good team, but this is a better situation for us."

She hopes to play as an outside hitter or defensive specialist for the Wahine in the fall.

This spring, she helps the men's team by advising her husband.

"She's a good player, but she's a good coach, too," Tukuafu said. "I ask her how she thinks I'm hitting, and she'll tell me things like if I'm hitting too low, or I'm too early on my approach."

Not that Tukuafu has needed much coaching this season. He leads UH in hitting percentage at .429 and blocks per game at 1.30.

Tukuafu's consistency and leadership is also valuable.

"He's big-time consistent," Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. "He's a warrior and a real team guy. We've got a bunch of 'em this year, and he personifies it."

Wilton said he's glad to have a married player on his team.

"Marriages are good for people, even if they're student-athletes," he said.

"If two people are in love, they shouldn't use the excuse of being students, or not having money, to not get married."

It helps to have someone at home who understands.

"It's nice to be able to come home and talk to my wife and for her to be able to relate," he said.

It's also pretty cool for Torry and Andrea to have "little brothers" from all over the world, too.

"I'll always have a place to stay in Europe," Tukuafu said.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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