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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, August 31, 2000




HPU deserves top billing

It appears the Pacific West Conference coaches' preseason consensus on which is the better volleyball team -- Hawaii Pacific University or Brigham Young University-Hawaii -- was more accurate than what was reflected in the first national poll.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association's Division II preseason national poll had defending national champion BYUH in the top spot and defending PacWest champion HPU at No. 2.

The PacWest coaches had HPU at No. 1 and BYUH at No. 2.

Even in the second national poll released Tuesday, BYUH received 19 of 25 first place votes with HPU taking the remaining six.

Even though most national coaches who voted stuck with BYUH for the second poll, HPU took over the top spot, barely edging BYUH, 603-594.

Now with the second week of the season almost complete and one game each against the same tough opponent under their belts, it seems that the HPU is truly deserving of the No. 1 ranking.

HPU opened its season on Sunday, hosting Northwood University of Midland, Mich. while BYUH also played the 20th ranked Timberwolves in their season and home opener on Tuesday night.

HPU won in four games, 13-15, 15-5, 15-9, 15-4, while BYUH lost in four, 16-14, 13-15, 8-15, 1-15.

Northwood will likely take a big jump in the rankings as a result of its strong performances. The Timberwolves also beat Chaminade, 3-0.

For BYUH, a 62-match home winning streak, dating back to 1994, came to an end.

After guiding his team to seven national championships in the 1990s, BYUH coach Wilfred Navalta was visibly disappointed after the loss.

"If I were to grade our performance, I'd give us a D-minus," Navalta said. "We have the potential to be a nice team -- I don't know if a national championship team -- but we got a lot of work to do."

Still, the season has just begun and BYUH is a fairly young team with a freshman setter, Telenia Leota, and several other new starters trying to fill the big shoes left by last year's departed All-Americans Juliana Lima and Arlete Silva.

Pleased with her team's great start against the same team, but refusing to read too much into it, HPU coach Tita Ahuna said: "I'm impressed with how our girls stuck it out and played together as a team considering we've never been tested so early in the season other than by BYUH."

Northwood's trip continues

Northwood's trip to Hawaii isn't over yet.

The team remains in the state for the Hawaiian Style Classic tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii-Hilo, which started today and runs through Saturday. Also participating in the tournament are HPU, BYUH and Chaminade, as well as two other teams from the mainland -- California State University-Dominguez Hills and Texas A&M-Commerce.

Tsukano Player of Week

Former Kaiser High School standout Vanessa Tsukano was named the first PacWest Player of the Week for this season after her stellar performance last week. The 5-9 outside hitter, who is now a sophomore at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, earned MVP honors at the Jefferson Invitational in Winona, Minn., after hitting .299 (64 kills, 21 errors, 144 attempts) and totaling 71 digs in four matches. She posted two career highs during the tournament, totaling 26 kills and hitting .575 against St. Cloud State.

Posthumous award for Kaleohano

"Aunty" Sally Kaleohano will be honored posthumously as the Lindsey Award recipient for this year.

Over the past 25 years, Kaleohano managed the scoreboard and public address system at the Hoolulu Athletic Complex in Hilo until shortly before her passing last December. The award is presented annually by the Hawaiian Style Classic to an outstanding individual whose involvement has led to the betterment of the game of volleyball.

By Brandon Lee, Special to the Star-Bulletin

Hawaii Pacific
U.H. Hilo

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