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Friday, September 3, 2004



[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Melody Eckmier went up for a block during last night's win over Eastern Washington.


Wahine open strong

UH sweeps Eagles to give Dave Shoji
a win to start his 30th season


Big hitters have come and gone for 30 years. But what has remained is defense.

It is what has endeared the Hawaii volleyball team to its fans for three decades.

17th Hawaiian Airlines Classic

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

Today: Arizona vs. Eastern Washington, 5 p.m.; San Diego at Hawaii, 7 p.m. (approximately)

TV: UH match live, KFVE (Channel 5)

Tickets: $3-$16

Radio: UH match live, KKEA 1420-AM

Internet: UH matches at k5thehometeam.com or kkea1420am.com

It was the trademark of early Rainbow Wahine teams. It is alive and well with this year's squad.

Thanks to 46 digs -- and helped by an impressive 16.5 blocks -- No. 13 Hawaii gave coach Dave Shoji the perfect present to open his 30th season, making quick work of Eastern Washington. The Wahine needed just 96 minutes to sweep the Eagles 30-23, 30-15, 30-20 in front of 4,412 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center.

As advertised, the Wahine used a diverse offense in the opener of the 17th Hawaiian Airlines Classic. Four Wahine starting hitters had at least eight kills apiece, led by sophomore Alicia Arnott's career-high 11 and senior Melody Eckmier's .900 hitting percentage (nine kills and no errors in 10 swings).

"I think we did a really good job for our first game," said Eckmier, setting the school record for hitting percentage in rally scoring. "There is room for improvement but we got our feet wet and need to build on what we did tonight. We set the bar and we want to keep raising it."

Hawaii (1-0) has its next chance tonight when facing San Diego (0-0) in the second match of the tournament. In the 5 p.m. opener, No. 17 Arizona (1-0) takes on Eastern Washington (0-1).

"I was just so happy to win the game," Shoji said. "And we looked good doing it for the most part. We got good performances pretty much from everyone who went in.

"We weren't sure how good or bad we would be. The blocking was unforeseen but it was nice to have."

It was pretty much a career night for all the Wahine, who lost six starters from last year's final-four squad. The only thing that went wrong was when freshman starting middle Juliana Sanders went down with a twisted ankle with UH leading 2-1 in Game 2.

The outcome was never in doubt. Every time the Eagles got close, the Wahine pulled away. Eastern Washington, with five new starters as well, never got in a rhythm, hitting negative for most of the match and finishing at .082.

"Young with too many new faces," EWU coach Wade Benson said. "We started to do things in Game 3 that we should have done earlier.

"(Hawaii's) middles were effective. Eckmier doesn't do anything special but she was very effective, and she had a lot of one-on-ones."


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Juliana Sanders grimaced after being injured during the second game against Eastern Washington last night.


Eckmier, in on seven of UH's blocks, was pleased with the team's performance.

"We were focused on our side of the net," the Wahine captain said. "Kanoe (Kamana'o) saw the block well and gave us a lot of one-on-ones."

Two players who had an immediate impact were starting junior hitter Victoria Prince (eight kills, four aces) and freshman Tara Hittle (four kills, .677), who entered in Game 3.

"Tara's an aggressive player and stepped right in," Shoji said. "She's an exciting player and, with Juliana out, it looks like she'll play a lot more.

"I wasn't sure when she was going to get into the lineup, I didn't want to put her out there right away, but she took some big swings and I'm excited for her."

Prince, a transfer from Washington State, had played against EWU before.

"We forced them to make errors," said Prince. "We had so much fun playing together tonight. This is so much more than I expected.

"Wow, I've got two leis around my neck and that's never happened before."

Junior libero Ashley Watanabe anchored the Wahine defense with 14 digs. Sophomore setter Kanoe Kamana'o added 10 in addition to 37 assists and five block assists.

"When you have the passing -- and Ashley was on it -- it was easy to spread the offense," said Kamana'o. "It's going to be spread out this year."

Brittany Page led the Eagles with nine kills while Deanna Albers and Keva Sonderern added eight.

NOTE: Sanders will have X-rays today to determine the extent of her injury.


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Victoria Prince tried to block this Eastern Washington shot last night.


University of Hawaii Athletics
uhathletics.hawaii.edu


Hawaii def. E. Washington

30-23, 30-15, 30-20
Eagles (0-1)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Page 3 9 5 24 .167 0 0 6
Albers, D. 3 8 7 26 .038 0 0 19
Albers, C. 3 2 4 8 -.250 1 1 2
Sonderen 3 8 2 21 .286 0 2 0
Mellor 3 6 7 24 -.042 0 0 6
Jensen 3 1 3 9 -.222 0 0 0
Reilly 2 0 0 1 .000 0 0 0
Johnson 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Kitterman 2 5 1 8 .500 0 1 0
Mainer 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1
Verdoljak 3 0 0 1 .000 0 0 10
Totals 3 39 29 122 .082 1 4 44

Rainbow Wahine (1-0)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Sanders 2 1 1 8 .000 1 1 0
Boogaard 3 8 3 29 .172 2 0 6
Arnott 3 11 4 34 .206 0 4 8
Eckmier 3 9 0 10 .900 0 7 0
Kamana'o 3 2 1 4 .250 0 5 10
Prince 3 8 1 14 .500 0 4 4
Hittle 2 4 0 6 .667 0 1 1
Gregory 1 1 1 3 .000 1 3 0
Watanabe 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 14
Fotu 2 1 0 1 1.000 0 0 2
Thurlby 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Woolford 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1
Totals 3 45 11 109 .312 4 25 46

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.
Aces --EWU (0). Hawaii (6): Prince 4, Watanabe, Boogaard. Assists -- EWU (37): Albers, C. 32, Sonderen 2, Page, Mellor, Kitterman. Hawaii (42): Kamana'o 37, Boogaard, Eckmier, Prince, Fotu, Thurlby.
T -- 1:36. Officials -- Denise Hansen, Ernie Ho. A --5,857.


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Kanoe Kamana'o, left, and Melody Eckmier tried to block a hit by Eastern Washington's Deanna Albers last night.

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