Saturday, December 4, 2004


Hawaii's Kari Gregory defended the net as Purdue's Kim McConaha tried to put down a kill in last night's match.

Hawaii in Sweet 16

The Wahine reach the regionals for
the seventh consecutive season with
a victory over Purdue

FORT COLLINS, Colo. » The Big Ten turned into the Big Chill last night for the Hawaii volleyball team. And staying cold continues to be a good thing for the Rainbow Wahine.

Undefeated Hawaii (30-0) will be packing its bags for Packerland when heading next week to the NCAA Regional in Green Bay, Wis.

The No. 2 Wahine take the top seed into regional-semifinal play Friday. Thanks to a 33-31, 30-27, 30-19 win over Purdue here in front of 1,210 at Moby Arena, Hawaii (30-0) advances to the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive year, 21st overall.

Hawaii will face the winner of tonight's second-round match between Wisconsin (20-9) and Notre Dame (21-8). The other two berths will also be determined tonight when Stanford (25-6) meets Florida (28-4) and Michigan (20-12) faces Texas (25-4).

It was the perfect birthday present for Hawaii coach Dave Shoji, who celebrates his 58th birthday today.

"It's a great present," Shoji said. "I'm just so happy for the team. After the match ... it was such joy.

"I think a lot of people in Honolulu were upset this week and there were a lot of (NCAA selection committee) eyes on us. It's a big relief to advance."

Hawaii got another strong performance from junior Susie Boogaard, who finished with 13 kills, hitting .375. Sophomore hitter Alicia Arnott banged away for a team-high 14 kills as the Wahine eliminated the Boilermakers (17-15) in 100 minutes.

"We knew what we wanted and we're so close," Boogaard said of the team's goal of winning a national championship. "This team wants it so bad. Our first step was to make it to Green Bay, and we're so excited to play there. Now we get to go home, finish up school. I'm ecstatic."

Whether they had won or lost, the Wahine had planned to return to Honolulu today. The players will be able to attend two days of classes and have two practices before leaving Tuesday night for the road trip they had anticipated.

"That's what Hawaii has going for it, tradition," said second-year Purdue coach Dave Shondell, his team in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990. "Their players think they're supposed to win, they think they're supposed to go to the final four.

"When Hawaii plays next week, I can guarantee they go in thinking they're supposed to win. It will be interesting to see how they do next week in that field."

Hawaii could potentially face two more Big Ten teams next week, the first being Wisconsin on Friday.

"They'll have a tough time with Wisconsin," said Purdue senior middle Kim McConaha, who tied Arnott for match-high honors with 14 kills. "Wisconsin has a great front line. But Hawaii, the way they played tonight ... it will be a tough ballgame. With their defense and if they can get it past the Wisconsin block, they'll be fine.

"Hawaii played real scrappy; they rose to the occasion. You could tell they wanted to go to the Sweet 16."

The key was winning Game 1. The Wahine were down by as much as 21-15, but, as has happened all season, there was no panic.

Right about the time that island students attending Colorado schools began chanting "E Ku Mau Mau" -- a call for a unified effort -- the Wahine began to pull together. Trailing at 23-20, senior libero Teisa Fotu began Hawaii's comeback with a 4-0 serving run that included two aces and gave UH its first lead since 12-11.

Purdue tied it at 24-24 on one of Elizabeth Jacques' 11 kills and there would be seven more ties, the last at 31-31. Arnott's kill gave Hawaii its fifth game point at 32-31 and Boogaard and Victoria Prince stuffed Melanie Ukovich to give the Wahine their fifth of 10 team blocks and the momentum.

Hawaii pulled away early in Game 2 and hung on, not allowing its tendency to struggle in Game 2 to take hold. The Wahine needed three swings to win it, with Arnott putting down her seventh kill of the game to give UH a 2-0 lead.

A kill by Prince gave Hawaii a 19-18 advantage in Game 3 and it would soon be over. Freshman defensive specialist Kelly Ong, making her first road trip, had an incredible serving run of 10 straight, including a career-high two aces, for a 29-18 lead.

One sideout later, a Purdue serving error sent Hawaii to Green Bay.

"I went in there and focused in," Ong said. "It seemed like three serves. It was amazing."

"We got a big lift from Kelly," Shoji said. "She has a good serve and she really contributed tonight.

"We had a lot of good performances and we played our style of volleyball. And maybe Purdue had to expend too much last night (to beat Colorado State in five)."

The Boilermakers were not the same team that upset CSU on Thursday, the first time the Rams had lost an NCAA Tournament match at home in 11 outings. It was also Purdue's first win in the tournament since beating Penn State in 1987.

"It's our bugaboo this year, not being able to play like we can in back-to-back matches against quality teams," Shondell said. "This is a nice Hawaii team, but it was one that, if we had played the kind of match like last night, we could have beaten."

It didn't happen in part because of Hawaii's defense -- 67 digs and four players in double digits, led by Fotu's 15. The Wahine also slowed down Purdue setter Renata Dargan, allowing just four of her dump shots to hit the ground; on Thursday, Dargan had 12 kills.

"We came up with a lot of plays defensively at the end," Shoji said. "It's the kind of defense we train for. It doesn't happen by accident.

"It was nice to see the fans. We have Hawaii kids all over the country and their parents probably called them and said you have to go cheer for the Wahine."

Lose money: UH associate athletic director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, a former member of the volleyball selection committee, estimated that the NCAA spent $13,000 to send Hawaii here instead of allowing UH to host the first two rounds at a profit of $100,000. She estimates the cost to send the Wahine back to the regional could be close to $20,000.

Family affair: Should Stanford beat Florida tonight, Shoji would be reunited with his daughter, Cobey, in the regional. Cobey is an assistant on the Cardinal staff.

WAC-ed: Rice and Nevada, the other two Western Athletic Conference teams in the NCAA Tournament, were eliminated in first-round matches yesterday. The Owls fell to Michigan 31-29, 24-30, 30-23, 30-20, while the Wolf Pack were swept by Wichita State 30-16, 30-24, 30-20.

Boiler up: Hawaii previously played Purdue in 1982 and 1983, both times the Wahine going on to win the NCAA title.

In 1982, Purdue lost to USC in the regional final 3-0. A week later, the Wahine won their first NCAA championship when rallying to defeat the Women of Troy 3-2.

For the record: The only other time Hawaii was undefeated in the regular season was 1995, when the Wahine finished 31-1. The only loss was in the regional championship in Honolulu, coming against Michigan State. Yesterday, Michigan State coach Chuck Erbe announced his retirement.

Hawaii def. Purdue

33-31, 30-27, 30-19

Boilermakers (17-15)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Dargan 3 4 1 10 .300 1 2 3
Ukovich 2 2 5 9 -.333 0 0 2
McConaha 3 14 2 35 .343 0 4 14
Wischmeier 3 9 4 31 .161 0 0 2
Dildine 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 5
Mader 3 5 4 21 .048 0 3 3
Berg 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 5
Williams 1 0 0 2 .000 0 0 0
Kolwitz 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Cappa 2 4 3 18 .056 1 1 1
Poe 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 18
Jacques 3 11 4 22 .318 1 2 1
Mastandrea 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 1
Totals 3 49 23 148 .176 3 12 55

Rainbow Wahine (30-0)

g k e att pct. bs ba d
Boogaard 3 13 1 32 .375 0 2 10
Hittle 3 7 4 22 .136 0 3 12
Gregory 3 9 2 14 .500 0 2 1
Arnott 3 14 8 39 .154 0 0 9
Kamana'o 3 3 1 7 .286 0 4 14
Prince 3 7 0 15 .467 1 5 2
Sanders 3 2 1 3 .333 0 2 0
Eckmier 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0
Fotu 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 15
Ong 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 4
Totals 3 55 17 132 .288 1 18 67

Key -- g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct.: hitting percentage; bs: block solos; ba: block assists; d: digs.
Aces -- Purdue (2): McConaha, Poe. Hawaii (6): Fotu 2, Ong 2, Kamana'o, Prince. Assists -- Purdue (45): Dargan 39, Ukovich, McConaha, Dildine, Mader, Poe, Mastandrea. Hawaii (49): Kamana'o 43, Hittle 3, Boogaard, Arnott, Fotu.
T -- 1:40. Officials -- Glenn Sapp, Joan Powell. A -- 1,210.

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com