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Wednesday, November 24, 2004



[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]


UH



Rainbow Wahine
keep season perfect

LOGAN, Utah » Flat? Try flat-lining.

Fresh off its fifth straight conference tournament championship and bringing its first No. 1 ranking in two years into the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, the Hawaii women's volleyball team decided to play dead. The only good thing for the Rainbow Wahine was that there were few fans (505) here to see one of their worst performances in years.

Perhaps it was the realization of what a loss would do to their regional and national seeding for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Perhaps it was the explanation they would have to give head coach Dave Shoji when meeting up with him in Salt Lake City after the 90-minute drive back from here.

Hawaii can be thankful for whatever it was that caused the turnaround after Game 2 against Utah State. The Wahine remained undefeated, escaping from what would have been a devastating defeat, with a 16-30, 26-30, 30-20, 30-21, 15-12 victory over the Aggies.

Hawaii (27-0) finished with a season-high 24 team blocks -- 13 in Game 4 alone -- and got 20 kills from Alicia Arnott to turn back Utah State (9-18) after 2 hours and 25 minutes. Coming up with career highs were senior Teisa Fotu (7 kills, nine block assists, one solo block), junior Kari Gregory (11 block assists) and Kanoe Kamana'o (in on 9 blocks).

It was a definite wake-up call for the Wahine, who take on No. 19 Utah today (4 p.m. HST). The Utes are 23-5 this season and 0-10 against Hawaii all time.

"This was a good learning experience," Fotu said. "We were lucky that we didn't have to learn from a loss."

Last night was the 16th straight time the Wahine had defeated the Aggies. It was anything but easy.

Hawaii was out of sync from the start, something that associate head coach Charlie Wade -- taking over for Shoji -- said came from the team not having its normal pregame routine.

The Wahine stayed in Salt Lake City Monday night and drove up yesterday. They did not practice.

"To be at your best, you need to be a creature of habit," Wade said. "We were out of our routine. We just kind of showed up. We thought we could just show up and play. That was the wrong attitude to have."

Hawaii never led in the first two games in going down 0-2 for just the second time this year. But that other time, the Wahine were at home against Nevada, not deep in the Cache Valley against a team with nothing to lose, playing its last match of the season.

It was ugly. Very ugly, an early indication being that Victoria Prince had more hitting errors (3) in Game 1 than she did in the three matches during the WAC tournament (2).

The Wahine tied it at 1-1 in Game 1 and then disintegrated with mental errors, playing in slow-motion against the fired up Aggies.

Trailing 17-12, Hawaii took a focus break, something that has become a dangerous trait. Behind seven straight serves by Dominique Arsenault, Utah State roared out to a 25-12 lead.

The Wahine never got closer than 11 (26-15) in scoring the fewest points since the rally scoring system was instituted in 2001. The Spectrum staff was in danger of running out of "Block Party" T-shirts thrown out whenever the Aggies recorded a block; they had a 4.5-1 edge over the Wahine.

The Aggies -- down to 10 players due to injuries -- jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Game 2. The Wahine made a late run, finally tying it at 24, but never took the lead as Utah State closed it out with a 6-2 run.

Hawaii's first lead of the match came at 8-7 in Game 3. The Wahine pulled away at 18-15, getting another key serving run from Ashley Watanabe for a 24-15 margin.

The Aggies got as close as 27-19 and held off two game points before a serving error by Amanda Orgill ended it.

The Wahine threw a block party of their own to start Game 4 with Gregory and Fotu teaming for four stuffs for a 9-3 lead. The Aggies switched setters, using Arsenault for the first time in five weeks, only to have Fotu and Prince come back with a block of starting setter Zuzana Cernianska.

The trend continued as both Fotu and Gregory tied their career highs (previously four for Fotu and nine for Gregory) for block assists toward the end of Game 4. Blocks by Kamana'o and Prince gave Hawaii a 25-17 lead and two kills by Arnott capped a 5-4 run to force Game 5.

The Wahine held a tenuous 8-7 lead when the teams switched sides. The Wahine then saw a 12-9 margin whittled to 13-12.

That's as close as the Aggies would get as Arnott put down her 20th kill and the Wahine came up with their 24th block when stuffing Carolyn Forbush. Hawaii is now 6-0 when it goes five games, Utah State is 3-3.

"If you had told us before the match that we would win Games 1 and 2, lose the next two and be playing the No. 1 team in a Game 5, we would have taken it," said Aggie coach Burt Fuller. "Giving all the adversity we've been through -- at one point five of our 13 players were out -- our kids didn't back down. It's tough to absorb this, knowing how close we were. Tomorrow we'll realize what an accomplishment this was.

"It's hard to gauge how good Hawaii is. They've been on the road for a while, they didn't practice today, this wasn't their best match. But I can't dispute where Hawaii is ranked because until someone knocks them off, let them be No. 1."

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Hawaii def. Utah State

16-30, 26-30, 30-20, 30-21, 15-12
Rainbow Wahine (27-0)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Boogaard 5 12 9 57 .053 0 1 14
Hittle 3 4 6 17 -.118 0 2 6
Arnott 5 20 7 54 .241 1 1 18
Eckmier 1 3 0 3 1.000 0 0 0
Kamana'o 5 1 0 4 .250 1 8 9
Prince 5 8 5 29 .103 1 7 2
Sanders 1 0 1 1 -1.000 0 1 0
Gregory 4 6 2 17 .235 0 11 0
Watanabe 5 0 0 0 .000 0 0 20
Fotu 4 7 2 13 .385 1 9 12
Totals 5 61 32 195 .149 4 40 81


Aggies (9-18)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Ale 5 0 0 1 .000 0 0 10
Orgill 5 9 6 31 .097 0 2 1
Peterson 5 9 13 39 -.103 0 2 5
Forbush 5 18 14 54 .074 2 0 9
Fahnestock 5 4 2 17 .118 0 3 16
Cernianska 5 7 3 26 .154 0 1 6
Arsenault 5 1 0 1 1.000 0 0 12
Roth 5 11 5 28 .214 0 1 0
Thoman 5 0 0 0 .000 0 0 24
Totals 5 59 43 197 .081 2 9 83

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.
Aces -- Hawaii (0). Utah St. (3): Arsenault. Assists -- Hawaii (54): Kamana'o 49, Prince 2, Fotu 2, Watanabe. Utah St. (57): Cernianska 46, Arsenault 7, Ale, Orgill, Fahnestock, Thoman.
T -- 2:25. Officials -- Marvin Hall, Daphne Nelson. A -- 505.
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