Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, December 14, 2001



UH volleyball
recruit Saleaumua
opts for Nebraska

She says Shoji didn't return calls
and the UH advisors weren't available

By Grace Wen

The gem of Hawaii's recruiting class from last year has changed her mind.

Former Wahine recruit Jennifer Saleaumua has verbally committed to play volleyball for Nebraska. The defending national champion Cornhuskers lost to Stanford in the second semifinal of the final four in San Diego yesterday.

Saleaumua was supposed to enroll at Hawaii this fall, but her academic eligibility became an issue in August. She became a partial qualifier after summer school courses raised her grade point average.

Hawaii coaches wanted Saleaumua in Manoa to enroll in school in the event that she became a full qualifier. But Saleaumua never came.

"What stopped me from going over there was because they wanted me to come before Sept. 10 just to attend the school," Saleaumua said in a phone interview from San Diego.

"I didn't know if I was going to be a full qualifier or be able to play. But if I were to go before Sept. 10, I'd be able to practice, but I'd still have to wait for my test scores to see if I could play. I really wanted to play, but I just didn't want to be there without me knowing if I was going to play."

Saleaumua also said that Wahine coach Dave Shoji played a role in her decision to stay home even after the NCAA declared her as a full qualifier.

"The head coach, he had to do with a big part of it," the 5-foot-11 outside hitter said. "The whole summer my parents had been talking to (assistant coach) Charlie (Wade). My parents wanted to trust the coaches because their daughter is going to be playing (for them). He's partly the reason. By him not calling, my dad tried to call him, but he wouldn't talk. My parents thought that was kind of wrong, but we got over that."

Shoji, who is in San Diego for the AVCA convention, could not be reached for comment.

Saleaumua said that her dream, since she was 16, was to wear a Wahine uniform. She already had her mind set on Hawaii even before she stepped foot on campus for her recruiting visit. Saleaumua, who is of Samoan descent, thought Hawaii would be a comfortable fit and it helped that many of her family members live in Hawaii.

Academic reasons played a role in Saleaumua's decision to select Nebraska after going on a second recruiting visit two weeks ago. She talked with Nebraska head coach John Cook face-to-face and was impressed by the academics and the volleyball program.

"When I went there (Hawaii), I didn't get to see any academic advisors," Saleaumua said. "Me and my friend went and I guess they weren't in at the time."

Nebraska loses two All-Americans in right-side hitter Nancy Metcalf and middle blocker Jenny Kropp. Saleaumua could see playing time next year if she does end up enrolling at Nebraska.

The 2000 National High School Player of the Year initially committed to Arizona last year but changed her mind. She said her letter of intent to Hawaii was voided by the fact that neither her GPA nor her test scores met the requirements for enrollment.

UH Athletics

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