Sunday, August 31, 2003



Wahine putting USC
loss in the past

Talk is cheap, or so it's said.

But given how much the Hawaii women's volleyball players have been talking to each other in the past week, the Rainbow Wahine are feeling very rich.

The loss to top-ranked Southern California last weekend led to some group soul searching. It resulted in more team meetings "than I've had in all four years here," said senior Maja Gustin.

Whatever was said, No. 2 Hawaii took it to heart Friday in dismantling No. 6 Minnesota. After a day off yesterday, the Wahine (2-1) look for another winning conversation when facing No. 22 Louisville (0-2) in today's second match at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Today's first match in the 16th Hawaiian Airlines Classic pits No. 13 UCLA (1-0) against Minnesota (1-1) at 3 p.m.

Yesterday, the Cardinals upset the Golden Gophers 30-21, 30-24, 24-30, 30-27.

"It's all about 'team,' " said Hawaii senior All-American Kim Willoughby. "You noticed that it was a different team (Friday) on the court. It's about how you play every single day.

"The polls mean nothing. It's about who plays well on whatever night it is. You can't go based on what someone else thinks. If you ask me, I think we're the No. 1 team, regardless of what happened (against USC)."

Hawaii gets another chance to step up its game against Louisville, a team still searching for some answers.

"We need better ball-control," said Cardinals coach Leonid Yelin. "We need to do better at serve-receive. We need to get into our game."

For the Wahine, that means connecting, with words and with passing, and with a more diverse offense.

"We want to move our team to another level," said Gustin. "Everybody knows about Kim and Lily (senior All-American hitter Kahumoku). The teams are focusing on them.

"We (the middles) are here to confuse the other team. There has to be a strong connection with the middles for it to work."

It begins with the passing and continues with the setting. Wahine coach Dave Shoji is satisfied with how far along that's come in the past week, especially with starting freshman setter Kanoe Kamana'o.

"Kanoe is a smart volleyball player," said Shoji. "She realized what she needed to do to help the team. And that's to get our middles involved."


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