Friday, December 6, 2002


Hawaii's Lauren Duggins had eight kills and six blocks against Western Kentucky last night. The Wahine swept.

UH advances
with sweep

The Wahine play Washington
tonight for a regional berth

UW is hungry

By Grace Wen

The first step is usually a baby one.

No. 2 Hawaii's notions of NCAA grandeur had to start somewhere, so the Rainbow Wahine began with a team that traveled far for its first NCAA tournament. Western Kentucky's effort never wavered, but ultimately the Lady Toppers were overmatched.

Before a subdued crowd of 5,501 at the Stan Sheriff Center, Hawaii (31-1) eased past Western Kentucky 30-18, 30-25, 30-21. The Lady Toppers finish their season at 33-5.

"Our energy and spirit were great," senior Margaret Vakasausau said. "Sometimes skills don't work the way you want them to.

"Our energy carried us. It was a good opening-round match to get the shakes out and get everything out."

Lily Kahumoku, hit one past Western Kentucky's Crystal Towler.

Hawaii got one solid offensive performance from its pair of All-American outside hitters. Junior Lily Kahumoku pelted Western Kentucky with 17 kills. But Kim Willoughby never found a groove. She opened the match hitting two balls out and finished hitting .208 (more than 150 points below her season average) with 11 kills.

But both hitters were tougher to handle in person as they often teed off against 5-foot-7 setter Sara Noe.

"I tried to replicate it in practice but ... volleyball is such a unique sport," Lady Toppers coach Travis Hudson said. "In almost every sport you can take great players out of a game. You can pitch around a Barry Bonds. But you can't do much to take a (Kim) Willoughby out of a game. You just have to try to do as much as you can to keep pace."

Western Kentucky couldn't, especially when Hawaii's middle attack also had to be respected. Junior middle blockers Maja Gustin (nine kills) and Lauren Duggins (eight kills) were perfect in hitting more than .500 for the match and blocking six balls each.

"(Western Kentucky) played hard. They played great defense," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "The hitters went up and took an honest swing at it, which a lot of teams that come in here don't do.

"We played a little loose tonight. Our skills were not where we want them. But like I said yesterday, the trick now is to win and advance. We're not going to look back on this match. We're not going to take a lot of time to evaluate what we did. We know we can play better and we have to play better to win tomorrow night."

Jennifer Carey, went up for a block of Western Kentucky's Jessie Wagner in Game 2.

The Wahine started Game 1 in a rotation they weren't used to and quickly found themselves on the short end of a 6-1 score. At the first timeout, Hawaii was hitting minus-.182 to .143 for Western Kentucky. By the next timeout, the Lady Toppers were in the negative. Willoughby didn't give Hawaii much at the net but blasted back-to-back aces to bring the score to 7-5.

The Wahine caught Western Kentucky at 9-9 with one of Kahumoku's eight kills in the first game. Senior Hedder Ilustre served eight straight, including an ace that gave Hawaii a 17-9 advantage.

The Wahine were called on four mishandled balls in Game 2 and didn't manage a comfortable lead over the Lady Toppers. Hawaii never trailed, but Western Kentucky was never far behind. The Lady Toppers staged a final rally with consecutive kills from middle Amanda Schiff and a Hawaii ball-handling error to close within 22-20. But the Wahine scored four straight to end the threat.

Hawaii got five blocks from Gustin in Game 3 as the Wahine controlled the net from start to finish. The match ended on Duggins' stuff of Crystal Towler.

Aside from getting blocked on match point, Towler had the best hitting performance for the Lady Toppers with 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Schiff finished with 11 kills.

"I'm very proud of our team," said Noe, Western Kentucky's all-time leader in assists with 5,172. "We came out and gave it everything we had."

The Rainbow Wahine have played nine of the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament this year. They will play Washington, a team it saw in September, today at 7 p.m. The Huskies rallied to defeat Colorado State 26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-27 in the other first-round match.

"We've done a good job of not looking sideways," Washington coach Jim McLaughlin said. "I don't know if it's about Hawaii playing well. If we get into a good rhythm, we've got a shot."

The Rainbow Wahine will need to be much sharper today against a Huskie squad that tends to perform better on night two.

Notes: Hawaii is 18-2 in its opening matches of the NCAA tournament. The Rainbow Wahine are 19-0 in matches to reach a regional. ... Before the match, the Lady Toppers bumped bellies with their mascot, a red Grimace-type character with a flip-top head before lining up at the endline. ...Juniors Nohea Tano and Lauren Duggins didn't wear their normal uniform numbers .. In other first-round action, North Carolina and South Carolina won in the Central Region. Pepperdine swept Cal Poly and UCLA handed Long Beach State a straight-game defeat. Texas, Minnesota, Arizona and Georgia Tech also advanced.

Hawaii def. Western Kentucky

30-18, 30-25, 30-21

WKentucky (33-5) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Cecil 3 4 5 19 -.053 0 0 11

Miller 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 5

Schiff 3 11 3 32 .250 0 1 1

Derbort 3 1 2 13 -.077 0 1 1

Noe 3 0 0 2 .000 0 0 4

Towler 3 12 4 24 .333 0 1 1

Ringger 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Borror 3 0 1 2 -.500 0 0 3

May 3 0 1 1 -1.000 0 0 15

Wagner 3 8 7 30 .033 0 1 1

Totals 3 36 23 123 .016 0 4 42

Wahine (31-1) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Vakasausau 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 3

Willoughby 3 11 6 24 .208 1 3 7

Ilustre 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 7

Kahumoku 3 17 6 44 .250 0 3 8

Gustin 3 9 0 16 .562 0 6 4

Duggins 3 8 0 14 .571 1 5 5

Boogaard 1 3 1 5 .400 0 1 2

Carey 3 0 0 4 .000 0 3 0

Villaroman 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 13

Tano 2 2 0 6 .333 0 2 1

Totals 3 50 13 113 .327 2 23 50

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.
Aces -- Hawaii (6): Willoughby 4, Ilustre 2. Western Kentucky (3): Cecil, Schiff, Derbort. Assists -- Hawaii (48): Carey 22, Vakasausau 19, Willoughby 2, Villaroman 2, Ilustre, Gustin, Tano. Western Kentucky (35): Noe 34, May.
T -- 1:21. Officials -- Kim Pickering, Carlos Rodriguez. A -- 6,099.


Wahine will see
a hungry UW

By Cindy Luis

The blinders have been on all season. No looking sideways, no looking behind.

All the Washington volleyball team has wanted to do was get better. One step at a time, one match at a time.

That has been the focus for the unranked Huskies (20-10), who returned to the NCAA tournament yesterday at the Stan Sheriff Center for the first time since 1997. Washington dispatched Colorado State 26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-27 in the earlier first-round match to gain tonight's meeting with No. 2 Hawaii.

The Huskies are excited. They know they've gotten better since losing in four games to the Wahine in the sixth match of the season. At that time, UW was the first team to take a game off Hawaii; the Huskies are one of five to do so all season.

"I think we're a different team than the first time we played them," said UW senior hitter Paige Benjamin, who put down a match-high 23 kills and hit .327. "They were really the first quality team we faced. But we've made more improvements than maybe any team in the nation.

"Playing in the Pac-10 forces you to play a good match every night with no time to let down. We're used to coming out consistently playing well every night."

It took awhile for Washington to figure out Colorado State (22-10). The Rams, in their eighth consecutive tournament appearance, served tough and got excellent production from freshman Andreya Downs (six kills in 10 swings with no errors) and the team's lone senior, middle Michelle Knox (four kills in six swings).

Midway through Game 2, the Huskies pulled together their block and their serve. Sparked by a three-point serving run by freshman Jessica Veris, Washington pulled out to a 24-17 lead and never looked back.

At 10-10 in Game 3, the Huskies had two consecutive blocks that put them ahead for good. Washington, with no blocks in Game 1 and two on the final two plays of Game 2, had six in Game 3, with Alexis McDonald, Kara Bjorklund and Veris in on three apiece.

Danka Danicic opened Game 4, holding service for six straight points and the Rams played catch-up the whole way. CSU got close, pulling to 18-17, 26-24 and 28-26, but never got over the hump.

The match ended when Downs jump-served into the net, ending CSU's season and handing coach Tom Hilbert a loss in his 200th match at the Fort Collins, Colo., school. The Rams are now 0-6 in trips to Honolulu.

"Our youth came through at times," said Hilbert, who has six freshmen and four sophomores out of 11 players. "Both teams fought pretty hard, but we were a little more error-prone, and that was probably the name of the game.

"We're a young team and we have a great future. We fought hard against a good Pac-10 team and we were three points from taking it to five."

Hilbert predicts a good match tonight.

"Hawaii probably has the best outside-hitting pair in the country," he said of Wahine juniors Kim Willoughby and Lily Kahumoku. "It's like having a great running game in football. It's your bread and butter. They're obviously very good."

CSU was outblocked 12-4, but ended up with more digs, 52-40.

"It took us awhile to get going, to do the things that U-Dub does," said UW coach Jim McLaughlin. "I never felt we got into a good rhythm, but sometimes you don't have to when your outsides are hitting over 30 percent.

"We'll have to be in a big-time rhythm tomorrow. We believe. We believe if we get into a good rhythm, if we play well, we've got a shot."

Note: Washington's freshman libero Candace Lee had about a dozen relatives in the stands last night. Her dad, Mike, is a 1973 Iolani graduate and played volleyball for the Raiders. Her mother is the former Maria Pang. "It's great to be able to come back to Hawaii," said Lee, who has spent her summers in Hawaii. "My role is to pass well. It all starts with the pass."

UH Athletics

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