JENNIFER WHITNEY / BENTLEY COLLEGE|
Bentley sophomore Ashley Elliazar left Hawaii to get out of the shadows of her famous relatives.
Elliazar finds herself
The outside hitter is with
another team, but still playing
Ashley Elliazar transferred from Hawaii Pacific, where she was an alternate starter on a nationally ranked volleyball team, to Bentley College near Boston, partly because she wanted to be Ashley Elliazar.
Not the daughter of 1979 UH Wahine national champion Lani Hayes.
Or the niece of 1978 Wahine All-American Cheryl Grimm.
Or the cousin of 2000 U.S. Olympic team setter Robyn Ah Mow.
At Bentley, she is just sophomore Ashley Elliazar, a 5-foot-7 left-side hitter with spring-loaded legs on a team going into the Northeast 10 tournament with a 20-10 record.
Nobody compares her with her famous relatives. "I want to be myself," she says. "There is less pressure on me here."
Elliazar, a 2002 Iolani School graduate from Mililani, has found something else in Massachusetts besides her own identity.
"It's the first time I have seen the changing (colors) of the leaves," she says. "It's so pretty up here. Wow. It's so weird. I can look outside and see the sun, so I put on a tank top and slippers, and when I go outside, I'm freezing my butt off. I don't understand it.
"It's the first time I've been in an atmosphere where snow has been falling on me. Wow. My teammates from the east say I won't say 'wow' and 'ooh' and 'ahh' after awhile. Winter doesn't stop at Christmas time."
Elliazar says she does miss the beach. "I've seen the beach up here. It's not like the ones at home," she says.
And she misses her family. Although she wants to establish her own identity, Elliazar acknowledges that "Cheryl and my mom gave the drive to succeed, even though I am shorter." The support of her dad, retired police Sgt. Al Elliazar Jr., and sister, 12-year-old setter/outside hitter Allie Elliazar, also have been essential.
And she misses her HPU volleyball games being on TV, big crowds who understand volleyball and HPU coach Tita Ahuna. "Tita is an awesome coach, but I really needed to get off the island," Elliazar says.
You can take the girl off the island, but you never take the island out of the girl.
"I wear a flower in my hair, and my mom just sent up my Hawaiian flag and Hawaiian blanket for my room," she says. And when her mother and sister visit next weekend, they will bring a bottle of sand for Ashley's dorm room (if it gets through airport security).
Elliazar has brought much more than sand and flowers to the Bentley volleyball team.
She got off to a slow start when she aggravated a previous anterior cruciate ligament tear, but she was fitted with a knee rotation brace and has played in nearly every game since mid-September.
Elliazar has had two 15-kill and two 15-dig matches, been in double-digit kills nine times and had four double-doubles, including one during a trip to Puerto Rico.
"You get lucky in recruiting sometimes," says coach Sandy Hoffman.
But Elliazar said it was not volleyball, but two Bs that took her 5,077 miles from home.
One was Bentley's nationally ranked business school and the other was her boyfriend, Iolani alumnus Joe Udell, who attends Brandeis, also located in Waltham, Mass.
"(Coach Ahuna) told me that Ashley was always attached to her cell phone at HPU," Hoffman says.
Elliazar says she had to leave Hawaii to appreciate Hawaii. "I torture myself by asking how the surf is whenever I call home," she says.
Aloha ball: St. John's University in New York honored its two four-year volleyball starters from Hawaii on Friday night by declaring its Big East match against Boston College "Hawaiian Night."
Fans were encouraged to wear "Hawaiian shirts" in honor of Robyn Kurasaki (Maryknoll '00 of Mililani) and Rosalyn Dang (Punahou '00 of St. Louis Heights). A season-high crowd of 1,050 attended.
Kurasaki is St. John's all-time leader in assists with 4,692 even though she was moved from setter to outside and back row this season to punch up the defense for 24-8 St. John's.
If right-side hitter Dang serves five aces in her final three matches, she will own the St. John's record with 133. She ranks fifth in career kills with 942 and second in attempts with 2,667. Dang is hitting a career-best .305 this year.
Freshman middle blocker Puna Richardson (Punahou '03 of Kaimuki) gave St. John's three starters from Hawaii this season and is hitting .320.
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more family history
Eri Macdonald ran in her last Pac-10 cross country championship race last weekend and her sister, Pippa, ran in her first.
It was the first time in their lives the two sisters from Kailua ran in the same race.
Their father, Duncan, a former American record-holder for 5,000 meters, was on hand in sub-40-degree chill in Pullman, Wash., to see "family history" being made.
Eri won 13 HHSAA state championships in track and cross country at Punahou School. Pippa won the last four 800-meter runs, giving the sisters an eight-year reign in that event.
But because Eri graduated from Punahou in May 1999, four months before Pippa started her freshman year, they never ran in the same races.
Eri is a fifth-year senior completing her eligibility at Oregon and Pippa is a true freshman at California.
"It was fun having her at the meet," Eri said.
Eri finished 16th, improving 20 places on her best Pac-10 finish. Pippa finished 67th in the 6,000-meter race.
Pippa Macdonald said, "I'm working into the whole 6,000 thing. This was the best sign of progress of any of my races."
She expects to run 800 and 1,500 meters in the outdoor season at Cal.
TIM MARSH / WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY|
Duncan Macdonald and daughters Pippa and Eri shivered last week in Pullman, Wash., where Pippa and Eri competed in the same race, the Pac-10 championships, for the first time.
Eri Macdonald will finish her collegiate career during the upcoming indoor season. "I want to try the mile," she said. "I have never focused on that before. It's a better transition from cross country (than the 800) and a lot more fun on the shorter (250-meter) track.
She will graduate in spring with degrees in journalism and French.
Of her career at Oregon, Eri says, "I had some races which were cool, but I am disappointed that I never made it to nationals in the outdoor 800 and didn't PR (run a personal best time) last year."
Her best 800 was 2 minutes, 6.37 seconds in a spectacular dual meet victory over Washington's Courtney Inman in 2002. "I was four seconds behind at 400, but the whole second lap I realized I could go after it and started feeling good," Macdonald said. She won at the tape.
Other races: Annie Kawasaki (St. Francis '01 of Makiki), the 2000 HHSAA state champion, finished 32nd at the Big Sky Conference championships in Flagstaff, Ariz. Her time of 19 minutes, 21 seconds for 5 kilometers was her best at altitude. ... San Diego State sophomore Christal Cuadra (Maryknoll '02 of Manoa), the 2001 HHSAA state champion, was 42nd at the Mountain West Conference championships. ... The NCAA Western Regional championships will be held Saturday in Portland, Ore.
Soccer shorts: Idaho State freshman Jen Loo (Mililani '03) received honorable mention on the All-Big Sky Conference women's team.
"Her ability to tease balls through some very tight seams makes her stand out," coach Gordon Henderson said. She was a very close runner-up for newcomer of the year." Loo led Idaho State in shots taken with 31 and was third in points with nine.
Western Oregon coach Rod Fretz called senior goalkeeper Moani Mundo's save in overtime at Northwest Nazarene "as great a save as you will ever see." Mundo (Castle '00) went horizontal to stop a shot that was sure to find the net and end the game, preserving a 1-1 tie.
It was Mundo's 77th save of the season in 17 games.
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