Friday, September 27, 2002
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Karin Lundqvist, 20, was able to work on her diversity in Sweden. The middle blocker was once named Sweden's top libero.
Lundqvists volleyballNo worries.
path was easy-going
The 6-foot-3 Swedish middleGame Day
blocker has a well-balanced game
By Grace Wen
That's Karin Lundqvist's problem-free philosophy.
And it's because of Lundqvist that second-ranked Hawaii doesn't have as many worries, despite early injuries to middle blockers Maja Gustin and Melody Eckmier.
The 6-foot-3 native of Stockholm, Sweden, has plugged a huge hole in the lineup and done it with a constant smile on her face. Lundqvist may have taken the long way to get to Hawaii, but it's obvious from her facial expressions that it's been worth it. Her teammates think so as well.
"Karin has stepped in and done a really good job this season," setter Jennifer Carey said. "She's had to hustle, learning a new system, adjusting to new teammates and getting thrown out there.
"She always has a smile. She always has a positive attitude. Even when things are going bad, she never frowns. She doesn't get frustrated easily. It's a sign of experience and the international player that she is. Her maturity brings a lot to the court. She's maybe not as dynamic as Maja, but she still does good things."
The maturity comes from a lengthy career in volleyball, a sport Lundqvist has played for almost 10 years. She seemed destined for it at age 8 when her two older sisters (Anna and Asa) got involved in the sport.
Lundqvist's first recollections of playing volleyball included a one-bounce rule, a lower net and a lighter ball. When she turned 10, she joined her sisters on a club team for "formal" training.
Lundqvist and her teammates were precocious players. They could have competed in the junior division. But they played in the multi-division adult league, eventually working their way up to its highest level. Her opponents were often experienced women many years her senior.
"I was always the youngest among older people," Lundqvist said. "I was always playing with older people. For my age, I was tall."
But not so tall that she didn't learn how to play defense. Lundqvist's 6-3 frame can hit the floor gracefully, as she demonstrated last weekend against Houston.
She fully extended her body to pop up a ball that was about to drop in front of the 10-foot line. It was her only dig of the match, but it was a beauty.
Back-row defense is a forte that the junior transfer misses and doesn't get to show off too often in Hawaii. But it has earned her awards before. In 1997, after a knee injury prohibited her from jumping, Lundqvist contributed solid defense and passing for her team.
"I got the prize for being the best libero in Sweden," Lundqvist said. "It was funny because I was probably the tallest one on the team. That was exciting, I was happy about it."
The 20-year-old is considered one of the most seasoned players on this Wahine squad. She came to Manoa with an impressive resume. Lundqvist has logged time with the Swedish national team and won three junior national championships and a Swedish beach volleyball championship.
Right now she is second on the team in total blocks (25) and averaging almost two kills a game.
"We could've had a younger player, but you just have so many mental errors from a young player," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "With Karin, it just doesn't happen to her. She's just solid. She's a very good passer and defender. In our system, she doesn't get to show that a lot.
"She's a veteran. She's not physically a great player. She's not going to get fooled. She's very smart. She's always in the right place."
Well, almost always.
A year ago, Lundqvist was looking for a change. She had just completed her second all-conference season with Montana State, but something didn't feel right.
"I was there for one-and-a-half years," Lundqvist said. "And I just felt that maybe this place had given me as much as I can develop, maybe not as a volleyball person, but more like a person.
"It's a pretty small place and I just felt kind of like I was trapped. You couldn't really go anywhere ... I told the coaches that I wanted to do something else."
She still wanted to practice with them. But when the team refused to let her practice with it last spring, Lundqvist left and returned home to Sweden. She talked again with former Wahine Angelica Ljungquist and surfed the Net for schools before contacting UH coaches again.
Lundqvist initially contacted Hawaii in 1998, but she tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a beach volleyball tournament. She spent a year-and-a-half rehabilitating the injury before joining the Bobcats.
An independent nature, a belief that things always work out and an extra long ride that included four plane changes finally got Lundqvist to Hawaii. She's not sure what she wants to do next, but she would like it to include volleyball.
"I want to have a plan," Lundqvist said. "But at the same time, you can't do that much about it. It all works out for the best way."
Remember, no worries.
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Who: Hawaii vs. Rice
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE (Channel 5)
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
Notes: Hawaii leads the series 9-0 and has only lost one game to Rice. As a team, the Rainbow Wahine are among the top five in four NCAA statistical categories. ... Hawaii is fourth in digs per game (19), second in assists (16.88), fifth in hitting percentage (.327) and second in kills (18.22). Pazo was the WAC freshman of the year and the go-to player again for Rice. ... The Owls feature a set of twins in Mariel Davenport Pollock and Elizabeth Davenport Pollock, both are part-time starters.
Ht. KPG Aces DPG S Rebekah Neal (Jr.) 5-9 0.34 6 2.78 MB Briana Cook (Sr.) 6-1 1.51 13 0.64 MB Becca Kainz (So.) 6-3 1.86 0 0.21 OH Rebeca Pazo (So.) 5-11 4.17 5 2.68 OH Lindsey Carter (So.) 5-11 2.20 6 2.25 Opp Catherine DuPont (So.) 6-4 2.28 4 1.56 L Allison Donohue (Jr.) 5-8 n/a n/a 1.45
Ht. KPG Aces DPG S Margaret Vakasausau (Sr.) 5-8 .23 0 1.97 MB Karin Lundqvist (Jr.) 6-3 1.92 3 1.36 MB Lauren Duggins (Jr.) 6-0 2.47 6 2.30 OH Lily Kahumoku (Jr.) 6-2 4.93 4 3.00 OH Kim Willoughby (Jr.) 6-0 6.25 29 3.47 Opp Nohea Tano (Jr.) 5-11 1.43 1 1.43 L Melissa Villaroman (Jr.) 5-6 n/a n/a 2.77
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