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Monday, September 1, 2003



[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]



art
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's Kim Willoughby watched this ball go by her during last night's win over Louisville.



Wahine flirt
with perfection

Hawaii hits .486 and slices
through No. 22 Louisville


It was impressive, to say the least.

Gaudy, by some accounts.

A volleyball team hitting .486 for a match? Unreal.

Even UCLA coach Andy Banachowski walked out of the Stan Sheriff Center last night, shaking his head.

"I'm shell-shocked, and I didn't even play," said the Bruins coach.

What he saw was enough to scare most teams: Hawaii more than living up to its No. 2 ranking in taking apart No. 22 Louisville in 88 minutes.

In front of 4,569, the Rainbow Wahine unleashed an amazing offensive barrage against the Cardinals in last night's second match of the 16th Hawaiian Airlines Classic, setting a tournament record for hitting percentage. Senior All-Americans Kim Willoughby (20 kills, .514) and Lily Kahumoku (18, .643) launched host Hawaii (3-1) into today's 4 p.m. title match with No. 13 UCLA (2-0).

It will be the 12th time in the history of this event that the two teams will take unbeaten tourney records into the championship match. Hawaii has a 7-4 edge, including 3-1 in the past four years.

In yesterday's first match, UCLA needed just 84 minutes to knock off No. 6 Minnesota and likely knock the Golden Gophers out of the rankings when tomorrow's poll comes out.

Minnesota finished the tournament fourth while Louisville (1-2) goes home in third.

What the Rainbow Wahine didn't crush, they stuffed, finishing with 15 blocks. It was two less than their season-high 17 last year against SMU, and three less than they had amassed in the first two matches combined.

"That's a final four team," said Louisville coach Leonid Yelin. "I think they have everything to go all the way, Of course, you need everything to fall into place, to have a little luck, but this will be a big year for (Hawaii).

"Hawaii has a long tradition of winning, of pride. These are invisible things but on this level, we are new kids on the block. I think Hawaii will beat UCLA 3-0, there's no doubt in my mind. They'll get as close to Hawaii as Hawaii lets them."

Hawaii didn't let the Cardinals get close for most of the night. Freshman setter Kanoe Kamana'o spread the sets evenly early, with middles Lauren Duggins and Maja Gustin having as much success as Willoughby and Kahumoku.

At one point in Game 1 -- with a 20-12 lead -- Hawaii was hitting an outrageous .700 (14 kills with no errors in 20 attempts). For the match, the Wahine had a combined six errors, with Willoughby having the most (two).

Kahumoku had no errors to go with her 14 digs and Gustin had just one error to go with her match-high six block-assists.

"We have focused so much on blocking," said Gustin. "We've practiced so hard that it has to start working. It's more like, 'Let's do it now.'

"We can play better, go to a higher level. Tomorrow, we need to bring that fire, the energy, and go to another level."

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji was pleased with where he team is.

"We did everything we've been trying to do in practice," said Shoji. "We blocked much better. We didn't block many balls in the first three matches but we've been working really hard in practice. I hope this is a good indication of that.

"The hitting numbers are gaudy. And I think Lily decided to raise her level of play. We played well, everything was flowing, and when that happens all parts of the game look good. I'm encouraged. I think we're better than we were a week ago."

Louisville had three players in double figures in kills: Sonja Percan (14), Lena Ustymenko (14) and Sun Bing (10). None hit higher than .296.

Hawaii had as many service aces (six) as hitting errors. The Wahine outblocked the Cardinals 15-4.

"It was fun out there," said Kamana'o. "Hopefully we can do what we did tonight against UCLA."

The previous tournament record for hitting percentage was .469, set by Hawaii in 1996 against UCLA.

UCLA 3, Minnesota 0: It was going to be a long flight home, regardless of the outcome, for the Golden Gophers. But Minnesota didn't expect to be packing an 0-3 record when leaving last night for Minneapolis.

"Obviously, we had a poor tournament," said UM coach Mike Hebert. "We basically have the same kids from last year, but last year we played as a team. This year's playing as a group of individuals."

Hebert used 12 of his 14 players, looking for a good combination. Banachowski used 13 of 17, looking to give his younger players a good experience.

"I think I'm more surprised about how Minnesota played than how we played," said Banachowski. "The first game was tense. They rallied, tied it at 15 and made a good run when it was in the low 20. That's the way I expected the match to be all night long.

"We kind of got hot and picked it up. Our enthusiasm is really carrying us a lot. Maybe they got tired and deflated."

Leading the Bruins were Brynn Murphy (11 kills) and Cira Wright (10 kills). In double-dig figures for UCLA were Chrissie Zartman (13), Heather Cullen (13) and Colby Lyman.

Cassie Busse led Minnesota with 11 kills while Paul Gentil had 18 digs and Lindsey Taatjes 14 digs.

Last September, UCLA lost to Hawaii in this event then traveled to Minnesota, losing to the Gophers in three straight.

"We managed them last year the same way they managed us today," said Hebert. "UCLA is much improved from a year ago. They've obviously gotten their team-thing together, playing with a lot of enthusiasm."

Wright, UCLA's lone starting senior agreed.

"I think we're playing more together, and there is a lot of enthusiasm," said Wright, who is 2-1 vs. Hawaii in this event. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow."



Hawaii def. Louisville

30-17, 30-24, 30-18

CARDINAL (1-2) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Flynn 3 2 0 4 .500 0 0 1

Cogan 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1

Marsh 1 0 0 0 .000 0 1 0

Filippova 3 1 2 5 -.200 0 2 1

Ustymenko 3 14 6 27 .296 0 0 18

Sun 3 10 4 30 .200 0 0 1

Hoffman 3 2 1 6 .167 0 3 1

Zaitseva 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 11

Percan 3 14 6 33 .242 0 1 2

Craven 3 0 1 3 -.333 0 0 1

Morris 2 0 2 3 -.667 0 1 0

Totals 3 43 22 111 .189 0 8 37

WAHINE (3-1) g k e att pct. bs ba d

Boogard 2 4 1 11 .273 0 3 0

Willoughby 3 20 2 35 .514 1 4 7

Kahumoku 3 18 0 28 .643 1 3 14

Kamana'o 3 0 0 1 .000 0 2 7

Gustin 3 6 1 14 .357 0 6 1

Duggins 3 6 1 10 .500 0 5 3

Lundqvist 1 1 0 2 .500 1 1 0

Arnott 2 2 1 5 .200 0 0 2

Eckmier 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0

Watanabe 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1

Thurlby 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1

Villaroman 3 1 0 1 1.000 0 0 6

Totals 3 58 6 107 .486 3 24 42

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.

Aces -- Cardinal (2): Zaitseva, Percan. Hawaii (6): Kamana'o 3, Arnott 2, Willoughby. Assists -- Cardinal (40): Filippova 23, Craven 12, Flynn 2, Zaitseva 2, Sun. Hawaii (50): Kamana'o 41, Thurlby 3, Willoughby 2, Boogard, Kahumoku, Arnott, Eckmier.

T -- 1:28. Officials -- Dan Hironaka, Wayne Lee. A --6389.



UH Athletics

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