Thursday, September 19, 2002



Depleted Houston
squad bands together
against Wahine

The Cougars have just 9 players
available against UH because
of a rash of injuries

By Grace Wen

In 22 years of coaching, Houston coach Bill Walton has never experienced a season quite like this one.

A 7-0 start got the ball rolling early for the Cougars, but injuries and the loss of players for various reasons have taken their toll on Houston.

Houston (7-3) brings a depleted squad (nine players) to tomorrow's 7 p.m. contest with second-ranked Hawaii (8-0) at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"This has been the most interesting season," Walton said. "Every now and then you lose a player to being injured or a player to eligibility. But to have six or seven players for all different reasons, and all of them at the same time."

Houston has lost three straight and Walton is just hoping his team can recover in time for the start of the Conference USA season next week.

Of his remaining players, two starters are playing through injury. Outside hitter Jane Anne Karasek has a cyst on her knee while middle blocker Jenny Tanneberger is dealing with shoulder problems. Tanneberger was leading the team in kills, but the shoulder injury prohibits her from swinging at balls. Karasek's cyst keeps her from playing defense.

Walton would love to rest both players but doesn't have any substitutions available to him.

The injuries have helped Houston band together.

"We have great team spirit," the Cougars coach said. "We have good fighting intensity. The last few games we've come up a little short in terms of having enough kills.

"We lead the conference in digs. Out of everybody in the conference, we're the team that holds our opponents to the lowest hitting percentage. But right now with rally scoring, you've got to sideout and you need some players to terminate balls."

Walton knows a win against the Rainbow Wahine could boost the confidence of his team.

But it'll take a flawless match to defeat Hawaii, which has won nine in a row and boasts one of the most lethal outside-hitting combinations. Kim Willoughby (2nd) and Lily Kahumoku (26th) are nationally ranked in kills per game.

The Wahine hope to carry the energy from Tuesday's match against Russian club team Samorodok over to tomorrow.

"We have to have the right attitude. We have to play hard no matter who's on the other side of the net," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "We found that out against Washington and Cal Poly. If we're not really into it, we'll struggle."

UH Athletics

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