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Tuesday, September 17, 2002


[WAHINE VOLLEYBALL]



UH



Wahine ‘entertain’
Russians

Samorodok, a pro-caliber club team,
meets UH tomorrow


By Grace Wen
gwen@starbulletin.com

The last time Hawaii played a volleyball match against a Russian team, the Rainbow Wahine were back in Klum Gym.

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said the five-game match was one of the most entertaining and thrilling matches he had ever coached. The Wahine coach believes today's 7 p.m. exhibition against Samorodok at the Stan Sheriff Center has potential to be the same.

Though the club team is only 2 years old, Shoji said that Samorodok's caliber of play should be higher than a ranked opponent.

"These are professional athletes," Shoji said. "They'll be very physical. They've watched us twice now, so I think they'll be ready for us.

"I have no idea what they're going to be like. I'm expecting to have a lot of fun. We'll just go out and have fun."

Samorodok knew what it was looking for when it sought Hawaii. The club contacted Shoji last May after hearing about Hawaii's spring match against Stanford. It took several months to arrange the exhibition. But it was part of company president Victor Lopatyuk's plan to expand Samorodok's schedule to include international teams.

Lopatyuk is the president of AMUR, a Russian gold-mining, joint-stock company, and owner of the club team. The players range in age from 17 to 34. Only captain Elena Svinolobova, who played a year at Utah Valley State college, has been to the United States.

Katamski said that the club hopes to have a continuing relationship with Hawaii. An invitation was extended to the Wahine to play in the AMUR Cup last June, but Hawaii was unable to attend because of the short notice.

Arthur Katamski, Lopatyuk's assistant, said the entertainment factor was one of the reasons the club was drawn to Hawaii.

"Hawaii is very progressive," Katamski said. "They're a good-looking team in volleyball. They have good, strong girls.

"The type of play is a very nice-looking game. They have good experience. They play like actors. They can attract people. It's very good (entertainment)."

Samorodok, which means "nugget" in Russian, completed a recent tour playing Japanese and Korean club teams. It went 1-2 in the Japanese Superior League and defeated all the Korean clubs it faced except for the Korean national team.

Samorodok originally planned to play four exhibition matches in Hawaii, but reduced its schedule to include Hawaii and Brigham Young-Hawaii on Wednesday. They'll return to their hometown of Kharabovsk, (an eight-hour flight from Moscow) on Friday.

The club fared better than expected last season and won the East division playoffs. Its season begins in October and Samorodok hopes to make the jump from the Russian High League to the Russian Superior League this season. The top two teams in the Russian High League move up to the Russian Superior League.

Note: The Rainbow Wahine moved up to second in the weekly coaches poll. Hawaii garnered 12 first-place votes in the AVCA poll. USC moved up to first despite being inactive last week. It is the first time since 1984 that the Trojans are the top-ranked team in the country. Third-ranked Florida moved up three spots after knocking off then-No. 1 Stanford last weekend. The Cardinal dropped to fourth this week. Nebraska rounds out the top five.


Exhibition

Who: No. 2 Hawaii vs. Samorodok
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
When: Today, 7 p.m.
TV/radio: None




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