[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]
of Hawaiis youth
It's how Dave Rubio describes the Hawaii volleyball team. And this was before the Arizona coach saw the Rainbow Wahine perform some amazing CPR Friday night to survive a 3-2 win over San Diego.
"Everyone is impressed with Hawaii," said Rubio, whose team takes on the Rainbow Wahine in tonight's finale of the 17th Hawaiian Airlines Classic. "Obviously when you lose the caliber of players they did, lose seven seniors, six starters, all the All-Americans, the Player of the Year ... they are a different team.
"But Dave (Wahine coach Shoji) has a great group of young kids who have great chemistry on the court. And they're really good volleyball players. If you're going to beat Hawaii, You're going to have to beat them because they're not going to beat themselves."
The No. 13 Wahine (2-0) found a way to win Friday, eking out a 2-hour, 43-minute nail-biter against a veteran Torero team. UH had to duct tape its lineup after losing a starting middle blocker to an ankle sprain for a second consecutive night. (Senior captain Melody Eckmier went down against USD Friday, freshman Juliana Sanders in Thursday's opener with Eastern Washington.)
No. 17 Arizona is also having to tinker with its lineup due to injury, and it apparently hurt the Wildcats. They fell to 2-1 after San Diego overcame Friday's disappointing loss with a 30-17, 30-16, 30-24 sweep.
Again missing from the Arizona lineup was junior All-American hitter Kim Glass, the Wildcats' kill leader the past two seasons. A shoulder injury diagnosed last Sunday will keep her sidelined for at least another two weeks.
Without her, the Wildcats have a number of players competing out of position. Junior middle Bre Ladd is on the right for the first time ever and sophomore Meaghan Cumpston has moved from the right side to the left.
"Even though it doesn't seem like it should be traumatic with Kim's loss, we still have people in positions they've never played before," Rubio said. "It changes things for us. But it is good because we know we can't rely on Kim and Jennifer (Abernathy) to always get us out of trouble."
Arizona nearly upset Hawaii last October here, taking the Wahine to five, just one of three teams to do so. Rubio also saw UH play on the mainland during spring break and "we knew they were going to be better than what people thought."
"It's a different style of play for them," Rubio said. "They're not as physical. Last year, it was just throw it out to Kim (Willoughby) or Lily (Kahumoku).
"The question for Hawaii will be when they're in a tight match. The young kids will need to step up. But those are the type of situations that create the veterans that you'll have a year from now."
At this point of the season, Rubio is just concentrating on his side of the net.
"It's hard to talk about matchups," he said. "It's early and you're way more concerned with your own team.
"For Hawaii, this is not going to be a rebuilding year. There's not much of a drop off. They'll be in the NCAAs. And they're going to scare a lot of people."