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Thursday, September 11, 2003



[WAHINE VOLLEYBALL]



UH



Rainbow Wahine angling
for another shot at Cardinal

Hawaii and Stanford must win
their opening matches to set up
a rematch of last year's NCAA semi

Oh, those vicious cycles.

When Hawaii began taking on Stanford in women's volleyball, the Wahine went 10-0 over a six-year span.

In the past 12 years, the Cardinal have nearly evened the score, winning the last seven meetings. (That's excluding UH's 3-1 exhibition win April 26, 2002).



What: Women's college volleyball
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tomorrow: No. 4 Stanford vs. Weber State, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Hawaii vs. Utah State, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Third-place, 5 p.m.; Championship, 7 p.m.
TV: UH matches live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: UH matches live, KKEA 1420-AM
Internet: www.k5thehometeam.com and kkea1420am.com
Tickets: $3-$16



There's no guarantee that No. 2 Hawaii and No. 4 Stanford will meet Saturday for the championship of the Sprint Hawaii Invitational. The Rainbow Wahine first have to get past former rival Utah State tomorrow and the Cardinal must beat Weber State.

But should the two ranked teams meet for the 28th time, the only history that matters to the Hawaii players is what happened last December in New Orleans. That's when the Cardinal swept the Wahine in the NCAA championship semifinal.

"There's definitely motivation from last year," said sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Watanabe. "And just because they lost (two-time NCAA Player of the Year) Logan Tom doesn't mean they're going to be junk.

"We're going to take them as just another team. And knowing that they lost to Florida (last Saturday), it boosts our confidence."

No. 3 Florida toppled host Stanford last Saturday. Hawaii watched Florida three weeks ago when the Gators competed in the NACWAA/State Farm Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center; both Hawaii and Florida lost to defending national champion Southern California.

"Knowing that Florida was capable of beating them gives us some confidence," said Rainbow Wahine assistant coach Kari Anderson. "That (losing streak with Stanford) is not a type of thing that matters much to our team. They're going to think about last year and this opportunity to beat a high-caliber team. Hopefully, we'll get them this time."

Anderson was a freshman setter for UH the last time they beat the Cardinal. It was Thanksgiving week of 1991 when Hawaii swept Stanford in three on a Friday but lost in five the next night.

"I remember those games," said Anderson. "Klum Gym was packed and there was a line around the gym. It doesn't seem like it was 12 years ago.

"Obviously, we'd like to have had different outcomes the last few times we've played them. But first we have a tough Utah State in and I know they're excited about coming into our arena, playing in front of a big crowd. They'll be fired up for us."

Stanford coach John Dunning is hoping to see Hawaii on the other side of the net Saturday.

"It's early, but what better way to find out what we do well and what we need to improve on," said Dunning. "Hawaii is one of the teams which will let us know what we have to face at the end of the season.

"With seven seniors and so much in place from last year's team, they are better than we are at this point. Our goal is to play as hard as we can and see if we are better than last week. We need to improve every day or we won't catch up."

Another win by Stanford will close the series gap even more.



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A look at the tournament teams

No. 2 Hawaii (7-1)

The Rainbow Wahine picked up their second consecutive tournament title Saturday when defeating Pacific in the Aston Imua Challenge.

Senior hitter Kim Willoughby was named the MVP for a second straight tournament. She also became the first player to reach the 2,000-kill mark as well as becoming UH's all-time ace leader.

Hawaii leads the series with Stanford 16-11, with Utah State 26-7, with Weber State 1-0 .

The Wahine have lost the last seven meetings with the Cardinal, dating back to Nov. 28, 1991, when Stanford won in five. Since then, Hawaii has taken just two games off the Cardinal and has been swept in the last three matches, including last year's NCAA semifinal.

Hawaii finished 34-2 last season, with both losses coming to Stanford in straight sets.

No. 4 Stanford (5-1)

The Cardinal rebounded from being swept by Florida on Saturday with a 30-22, 30-21, 30-21 win over St. Mary's College on Tuesday.

Stanford is led by junior Ogonna Nnamani (5.35 kpg, .372) and middles Jennifer Harvey (1.56 kpg, 2.12 bpg) and Sara McGee (2.65 kpg, 1.24 bpg). The Cardinal defensive specialist is junior Leahi Hall, the 2000 Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year out of King Kekaulike.

Coach John Dunning is in his third year (70-8). He led the Cardinal to the 2001 NCAA title and won two championships as the coach at Pacific.

Stanford trails in the series with Hawaii 16-11 but has closed the gap after losing the first 10 meetings with the Rainbow Wahine. The Cardinal are 1-0 against both Utah State and Weber State.

Utah State (5-2)

The Aggies opened with five straight victories but have dropped their last two. At the Montana State Tournament last weekend, Utah State beat Alabama, then fell to the hosts in five and to No. 14 Kansas State in four.

The Aggies return five starters from last season's 14-16 team. They are led by senior middle Erin Cartwright-Davis, who ranks fourth on the school's all-time kill list. She is averaging 4.28 kpg and 1.52 bpg with 16 aces. Sophomore opposite Zuzana Cernianska leads the team in kills (5.16 kpg).

Coach Burt Fuller is in his third year (39-29).

Utah State trails in the series with Hawaii 7-26 and with Stanford 0-1.

The Aggies lead against Weber State 25-18, including a 3-0 win last month at the Weber State Tournament. Utah State ended Game 2 with a 24-3 run, including scoring 13 straight points in winning 30-13.

Weber State (3-4)

The Wildcats went 1-2 last week at the Wyoming Invitational, defeating San Jose State in four, then losing to Sam Houston State in three and host Wyoming in five.

Weber State ended a two-match skid Tuesday, rallying for a 30-17, 27-30, 24-30, 30-25, 15-11 win over visiting Utah Valley State.

The Wildcats return three starters from last year's team that finished 20-13.

Leading Weber State are senior hitters Stephanie Kropushek-Birch (3.57 kpg) and Kris Hollingsworth (3.78 kpg)

Coach Al Givens is in his 11th year.

Weber State trails in the series with Utah State 18-25 and is 0-1 against both Stanford and Hawaii. The only meeting with the Wahine was in 1983, when the Wildcats scored a total of 18 points in the three-game loss.



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