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Star-Bulletin Sports


Sunday, December 2, 2001


[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]



UH


Wahine look for
revenge on Bruins


By Grace Wen
gwen@starbulletin.com

PULLMAN, Wash. >> Flight plans for the Hawaii volleyball team have been put on hold and it isn't because of the weather.

After three weekends of back-and-forth trips from the mainland to Honolulu, the Hawaii volleyball team plans on staying put for just a little while.

The ninth-seeded Wahine advanced to the NCAA regional and will play eighth-seeded UCLA on Thursday at 3:30 or 5:30 p.m. The regional final is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday. Top-seeded Long Beach State will probably host the regional.

The Wahine originally intended to go back to Oahu during the break between NCAA second-round matches and the regional but decided against it.

It's not the first time things didn't go according to plan this season. When Lily Kahumoku decided to sit out the season and Veronica Lima opted not to return for her senior year, the Wahine underwent a massive restructuring and reassembling of parts.

They have had surprising success and don't feel like their season should end soon.

"We came so far that we want to go to next week," sophomore Maja Gustin said. "We don't want to finish our season early. We still want to play games so if we have a chance, we take them."

Gustin wasn't just speaking about the distance the Wahine have traveled but the strides they have made.

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji was realistic when he set goals for this team. But he couldn't have anticipated Kim Willoughby's breakout year or the team's work ethic.

"We made it a goal to try to get to a regional." I thought that was realistic," Shoji said. "Actually, we made it a goal to get to the regional final, so we've got one more little goal and then another big goal. I thought we could do it. Our players never doubted we could be there in the Sweet 16. They still think we're going to the finals and who am I to doubt them at this point.

"They've done everything we've asked them to do in practice. It's been a great road team, a great team to work with. It's been a great season so far and we're still alive."

Barely.

Hawaii struggled against Eastern Washington, the opponent it didn't think it would have to worry about if it made it past Washington State.

The Eagles weren't that tall but had effective blocking and quick attackers. The Wahine will probably see similar or better blocking against the Bruins.

Thursday's match will be the teams' 58th meeting. Hawaii leads the series 30-27. The Bruins swept the Wahine earlier this year at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic. UCLA struggled for a stretch of their season when it was without All-American Kristee Porter. The outside hitter was suspended for violating NCAA rules but was reinstated before the playoffs.

If the Wahine beat the Bruins, they'll probably get their first crack this season against top-ranked Long Beach State. Shoji is hoping to be in the same scenario Eastern Washington was yesterday.

"Next week, we'll be in that position where we're the underdog and we have nothing to lose and we go out and play loose like Eastern Washington did," Shoji said.



UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii



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