Thursday, October 7, 2004


No matter the lineup,
Hawaii still winning

Boise State and UTEP are up next,
but the Rainbow Wahine have always
found a way in a 12-0 start

The pieces of the puzzle change every match, but the pieces seemingly are interchangeable. And they continue to fit perfectly for the undefeated Hawaii women's volleyball team.


Who: vs. Boise State (14-3, 3-1), 7 p.m. tomorrow; vs. UTEP (6-7, 0-4), 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

Radio: Live, KKEA (1420-AM)

TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)

Tickets: $3-15.

Series: Hawaii leads BSU 6-0 and UTEP 9-0.

When junior libero Ashley Watanabe struggled in the backcourt on the road at Nevada last week, the 5-foot-6 junior was swapped out with 6-foot senior Teisa Fotu. It might have seemed an odd substitution -- Fotu had been used as an outside hitter, middle and serving specialist -- but the switch stabilized the Rainbow Wahine's passing.

It also might portend things to come in the women's college game: a taller libero.

"I think it will become a trend," Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji said. "I think you'll be seeing more taller liberos, players who have good, all-around volleyball skills and who have played all the way around (all rotations).

"I had told Teisa to take her other uniform. We just needed a change."

While the lineup continues to change for the young Hawaii team, one thing remains the same. The 12-0 Wahine are still unbeaten, one of four undefeated teams in the Top 25.

Hawaii looks to continue that trend -- as well as its other impressive streaks --against Western Athletic Conference opponents Boise State tomorrow and Texas-El Paso on Sunday. The Wahine have won 40 consecutive regular-season matches, 80 straight WAC matches (92 including the WAC tournament) and 184 in a row against unranked teams.

First up are the Broncos, who are enjoying their best-ever WAC season. Coming into 2004, BSU was 2-37 in three years of conference play.

The Broncos come into the Stan Sheriff Center 14-3 overall, 3-1 in the WAC. Their losses have been to Portland in five, to No. 1 Washington in three and Rice, the WAC Eastern Division leader, in four.

The Broncos are led by 5-9 sophomore middle Cameron Flunder (3.95 kills per game) and senior middle Heather Malaschak (1.62 blocks per game).

"Boise has a good record," Shoji said. "They've played good volleyball, so they must be doing something right.

"As for us, we're still making the same kinds of errors that get us in holes. I'm not happy with the way we played (on the road). We still managed to pull it out. We're pretty fortunate to be undefeated."

And the Hawaii players are happy to be back home after their first road trip of the season.

"It was hard," freshman hitter Tara Hittle, the reigning WAC Player of the Week, said. "I'm glad we won both and that is all we can ask.

"I've heard good things about both teams we'll be playing. We're not going to look over anyone. We have a lot of respect for them."

"It's exciting that we're still undefeated, but we still need to work on a lot of areas," added sophomore setter Kanoe Kamana'o. "It's not one particular thing. We just have to keep pushing ourselves."

The key, according to Fotu, is to stay focused.

"Sometimes you have bad games and that (Nevada last Saturday) was one of those nights," said the transfer from Hawaii Pacific. "What got us through was focus and staying as disciplined as we could even though some of us were having bad nights. That's going to happen sometimes."

The complete breakdown hasn't happened yet, as Hawaii continues to pull out tight matches. The Wahine are 4-0 in matches pushed to Game 5 and have rallied twice after losing Games 2 and 3.

"I don't know how, but they keep figuring out a way to win," Shoji said.

Notes: Associate head coach Charlie Wade and wife Tani welcomed the couple's first child late Tuesday night, son Jeffrey Charles Makana Wade II ... Sunday is "Kids' Night" at the Sheriff Center. Members of the UH Kids' Club will be hosted at a 3 p.m. reception prior to the Wahine-UTEP match and will receive a free ticket to the match with the purchase of an adult ticket. The cost to join is $10 or the price of a large pizza at Papa John's. The club is open to students in eighth grade and younger. Visit any Papa John's outlet for more information. RSVP to the receptions at johnpm@hawaii.edu and include the names of children and parents who will attend the function.



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