Sunday, December 8, 2002
BYUH winsCANYON, Texas >> If Hawaii is indeed the volleyball capital of the world, go ahead and erect the shrine in Laie.
The Seasiders take their second
NCAA D-II championship
Just two weeks after former Seasider Mona Ah-Hoy coached Kahuku to the state volleyball championship, Brigham Young-Hawaii won the NCAA Division II title by sweeping Truman 30-21, 30-24, 30-21 yesterday.
"When we were huddling in the beginning, I told the girls, 'I don't know much about Missouri (where Truman is located), but we come from Hawaii, and we should be proud of that,' " junior middle blocker Ashley Moeai said. "With the high school team (Kahuku) winning, and UH doing great and HPU always good, it meant so much to be able to represent the place that volleyball powerhouses come from."
The Seasiders stepped over the Bulldogs for their second national title since moving to the NCAA five years ago. It was their 10th national title overall.
Middle blocker Chun Yi Lin led the charge for the Seasiders, who dominated the middle of the net throughout the tournament. Lin pounded 17 kills through the first two games and finished with 23, while fellow middle blocker Moeai added 15. Lin only made a single error and hit .611 while Moeai hit .357. Setter Kaala Lo was even better in her eight attempts in the middle, converting six and hitting .750.
All three made the 12-member all-tournament team along with outside hitter Yu Chuan Weng, who led the team in kills this season before the focus turned to the middle.
"We knew that (we would have an edge in the middle,)" BYUH coach Wilfred Navalta said. "The game plan was definitely to go to the middle. It is one of those things in life, we played well and brought our 'A' game."
So the Seasiders will come home champions for the 10th time, arriving on Delta flight 1579 at 6:27 p.m. today. Navalta will not be on that flight because he will stay on the mainland to recruit and attend the wedding of his daughter Dec. 28. But senior Leiau Meatoga will be on the flight, her final one as a collegiate athlete.
"She was kind of asked to be the focus this year," Navalta said. "She led the tempo with her defense and her presence. It was nice to have her. What a way to go out, finishing your career a winner."
Meatoga, who prepped at Kahuku, was the team's lone senior and the only link to BYUH's 1999 championship team, when she won the title as a defensive specialist. This was not 1999, though -- this year was better.
"This is much sweeter," Meatoga said. "I had to work harder and the team had to rely on me more. The second one is much sweeter than the first."
It was sweeter mostly because this one was not a part of the master plan. Navalta always wants to win, but he thought this trip to nationals would be more about gaining experience than winning another title. The Seasiders are 11-1 in NCAA tournament play.
"When we first started this I thought it would be nice to win the conference and get into the region," Navalta said. "It is a tribute to the players that they were able to come in with the right mindset and really execute well."
Moeai thinks what may have been Navalta's greatest concern may have been the team's greatest asset.
"I think it is because we are so young," Moeai said. "They have had some great teams here in the past, but this team clicked more on the court than any I've ever been on. The older people weren't trying to be older people, nobody was superior to anyone else. It was like, if you don't play it doesn't matter, everyone was together and nobody was talking behind anyone's back. It is the stuff the coaches don't see, not that there was grumbling in the past, but this was something different."
Television time: CBS followed the Seasiders throughout the day for a documentary on small college athletics to be aired later this month.
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