Wednesday, December 6, 2000
Wahine eye revenge,Forget the national polls. Forget the home advantage.
Hawaii to host its nemesis,
Long Beach State, in the West
Regional semifinals of NCAA
Volleyball Tournament tomorrow
By Pat Bigold
The No. 3 University of Hawaii women's volleyball team knows it will take a superior performance tomorrow night to stop No. 13 Long Beach State's march toward its fourth straight (eighth overall) NCAA final four.
"There's no one who's going to be intimidated," said Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji, who coaches the nation's No. 5 hitting percentage team.
"We're going to attack and be very aggressive."
Four nationally ranked teams will play in the West Regional at the Stan Sheriff Center over the next two days, all hoping for a plane ride to Richmond, Va., next week.
Coaches were saying last night that this regional field is so strong that there's no telling which team will emerge.
No. 9 Minnesota (30-3), the Big Ten's runner-up, is keyed by all-conference setter Lindsey Berg, a Punahou product. The Golden Gophers will face No. 14 UC-Santa Barbara (25-7), which finished ahead of Long Beach State in the Big West. The Gauchos lost to Hawaii here on Sept. 15.
But it's hard for local fans to look past the animated Brian Gimmillaro and his 49ers.
Long Beach State (24-7) broke the hearts of the Wahine (29-1) in The Pyramid only two weekends ago with a dominant 15-13, 15-8, 13-15, 15-10 victory that snapped Hawaii's 27-match unbeaten streak.
In order to win tomorrow, the Wahine must find a way to deal with the 49ers' formidable 6-foot-7 outside hitter, Tayyiba Haneef, and 6-2 middle blocker Cheryl Weaver (Big West co-player of the year).
Weaver was immense against Hawaii with a triple-double (29 kills, 12 digs, 12 blocks) while Haneef (21 kills) bombed away at will on the outside.
The Wahine were outblocked twice-over and held to a .167 hitting percentage, their lowest of the year.
Gimmillaro said last night that if he'd known the 49ers were going to travel and wind up in the same bracket with Hawaii again this year, he'd have played that match much differently.
"We were led to believe we were playing to stay home," he said.
"If we knew we'd be playing Hawaii again, we would have done many different things offensively and we would have used much different looks defensively."
Besides the home crowd, another major difference for Hawaii tomorrow could be 6-3 freshman All-WAC middle blocker Maja Gustin, one of the NCAA's better blockers and Hawaii's top percentage hitter.
Gustin, who sprained her right ankle in Long Beach on Nov. 24, is far from 100 percent but ready to play.
"But she won't make the whole difference," said Shoji.
"We all have to hit better. Every one of our players can play better than they played last time.
"We can't rely on Maja to turn it around."
The last time the 49ers came to the Stan Sheriff Center was Sept. 16, 1999. The Wahine won, 15-13, 15-10, 10-15, 15-10.
But Hawaii is 0-5 against the 49ers in NCAA Tournament play.
Gimmillaro said he knows he'll be a focus of fan scorn tomorrow but he doesn't mind being a lightning rod for his team.
"It's just great to be in an environment where people care about the sport," he said.
Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert said his early match tomorrow against UC-Santa Barbara will be "a classic match between a physical team and a serve-pass-and-dig team."
The Gophers, the NCAA's No. 6 blocking team, are the physical side with the Gauchos the smaller but scrappy side.
UC-Santa Barbara has played 12 ranked teams this year.
They've gone to five games in six matches season and won five of the matches.
"Since we were here, we beat long Beach State twice and finished ahead of them in the Big West," said UC-Santa Barbara head coach Kathy Gregory.
"We're tournament-tough and ready to play any team. "
Last weekend, the Gauchos knocked off No. 19 Stanford in five games and they did it without starting freshman outside hitter Erica Menzel (3.69 kpg).
Menzel broke her left hand in warmups before the first round match with Texas-San Antonio last week.
Gregory agreed that Berg, who's led the Big Ten in aces for three seasons, will probably draw crowd support.
"If the locals want to yell for Minnesota against the Gauchos, we'll accept it," said Hebert.
"In many ways, she's (Berg) the heart and soul of our team. And certainly Lindsey's serving gives her an added dimension."
Minnesota is No. 6 in the NCAA in assists due to Berg's play.
"We're more physical than Santa Barbara is, but I think their ballhandling is better than ours," said Hebert. "Obviously they're one of the nation's great defensive teams and they play with an intensity that's uncommon."
Hawaii WahineCoach: Dave Shoji, 26th season (739-138, .842)
Season: 29-1, WAC champion
Rank: No. 3
Top players: Lily Kahumoku (6-2 So. OH), 4.59 kpg; Jessica Sudduth (6-2, Sr. OH), 3.45 kpg; Maja Gustin (6-2 Fr. MB) 1.58 bpg, .371; Kim Willoughby (5-10 Fr. OH), 3.08 kpg, 3.00 dpg; Veronica Lima (6-2 Jr. MB), 2.89 kpg, 1.16 bpg; Jennifer Carey (6-1 So. S), 12.48 apg
. Last week: .def. Davidson, 3-0; def. Utah, 3-0
Series: Leads Long Beach State, 21-15-1; leads UCSB, 25-5; leads Minnesota, 5-0
Long Beach St. 49ersCoach: Brian Gimmillaro, 16th season (449-104, .811),
Season: 27-4 (Big West 3rd)
Rank: No. 13
Top players: Tayyiba Haneef (6-7 Jr. OH) 4.22 kpg, .372, 1.05 bpg, .369; Cheryl Weaver (6-2 Jr. MB), 4.63 kpg, .332, 1.59 bpg, .342; Elisha Thomas (6-2 So. MB), 2.86 kpg, 1.17 bpg, .310; Brittany Hochevar (5-9 So. OH/S) 9.51 apg, 2.42 dpg, 60 aces
Last week: def. San Jose State, 3-1; def. Santa Clara, 3-2
Series: Trails UH, 15-21-1; leads Minnesota, 2-0; leads UCSB, 47-26
UCSB GauchosCoach: Kathy Gregory, 26th season (653-276, .702)
Season: 25-7, Big West 2nd
Rank: No. 14
Top players: Danielle Bauer (5-11 So. MB), 4.46 kpg, 2.65 dpg; Brieanna Lampe (6-0 Jr. OH), 4.12 kpg, .371; Simone Kuhn (6-2 Fr. MB) 3.54 kpg, 3.01 dpg
Last week: def. Texas-San Antonio, 3-0; def. Stanford, 3-2
Series: Tied with Minnesota, 2-2; trails UH, 5-25; trails Long Beach State, 26-47
Minnesota Golden GophersCoach: Mike Hebert, 5th season (121-47, .720)
Season: 30-3, Big 10 2nd
Rank: No. 9
Top players: Nicole Branagh (6-1 Sr. OH), 5.67 kpg, 3.63 dpg; Lindsey Berg (5-8 Jr. S), 14.18 apg, 75 aces; Stephanie Hagen (6-3 Jr. MB), 4.11 kpg;.377
Last week: def. Robert Morris, 3-0; def. Arizona State, 3-1
Series: Tied with UCSB, 2-2; trails UH, 0-5; trails Long Beach State, 0-2
Tomorrow's semifinals: No. 9 Minnesota (30-3) vs. No. 14 UC Santa Barbara (25-7), 5 p.m.; No. 3 Hawaii (29-1) vs. No. 16 Long Beach State (24-7), 45 minutes after end of Match 1.
Friday's championship: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
Radio/TV: Hawaii matches live on KFVE TV and KCCN radio (1420-AM).
Tickets: $6-$12 individual, $10-$22 two-day package