[ RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]
Shoji voted best ever
Who: No. 11 Hawaii (9-6, 6-0) at Boise State (4-9, 0-6), 10 a.m. HST
Radio: Live, KKEA (1420-AM)
Series: Hawaii leads, 9-0
Next up: Utah State, Nov. 20, Stan Sheriff Center
When the Hawaii volleyball team takes the court at Boise State today, Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji will see a squad that has made great strides over the past three months with three players -- Kanoe Kamana'o, Victoria Prince and Sarah Mason -- possibly headed toward All-America honors.
After a tough 6-6 start that included losses to the current Nos. 1-, 2- and 4-ranked teams in the country, 11th-ranked Hawaii has won its last six, running its nation-leading conference win streak to 97.
Where Shoji will rank this team among his other 30 won't be determined until December. But the NCAA knew where to rank Shoji when selecting its 25th Anniversary Women's Volleyball Team: as the No. 1 coach.
Shoji and three-time All-American Deitre Collins yesterday were named to the team that celebrates 25 years of NCAA sponsorship of the sport. The Wahine have won NCAA titles in 1982, 1983 and 1987, in addition to their 1979 AIAW championship; they've also finished second twice and shared third three times.
Joining Collins on the anniversary team are Elaina Oden, Pacific; Logan Tom and Kerri Walsh of Stanford; Danielle Scott from Long Beach State; and UCLA's Natalie Williams.
"Wow," Shoji said when told of the honor. "I'm very honored that they would vote me as the coach of that team.
"It would have been hard for me to pick the team, but I sure would have liked to coach that team."
Shoji is 881-156-1 in his career, his .849 winning percentage tops among active head coaches. He is just one of four women's volleyball coaches to reach the 800-win mark, was named a USA Volleyball All-Time Great Volleyball Coach in 2003, and was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame this past year, the first year he was eligible for selection.
Collins, currently coaching at Cornell, was a member of the 1982-83 NCAA title teams. She won the Broderick Cup in 1983 as the top female college athlete in the country, the first time a volleyball player won the award, and still holds the NCAA tournament record for solo blocks (15 in 1983), particularly impressive since the tournament then was a 32-team field and Collins set the mark over just four matches.
Yesterday's announcement capped a good day for Shoji and the Wahine (12-6, 6-0) as they prepared for the Broncos (4-9, 0-6).
"We had a good practice," Shoji said, arriving in Boise yesterday afternoon.
The Wahine's goals were three-fold for today's match: come out strong, establish their game early and take care of Boise State middle Cameron Flunder.
Flunder, an athletic 5-foot-9 junior, is tied for third in the WAC in service aces (16) and ninth in kills (3.53 kpg). She had 10 kills and five blocks in Thursday's loss at Nevada.
"Regardless of the opponent, we need to come ready to play," Shoji said. "You have to focus, show up and play hard. If we do that, then we'll have success."
Hawaii opened the WAC season with a 30-17, 30-10, 30-21 win over Boise State at the Sheriff Center on Sept. 22. The Wahine fell to Loyola Marymount in five the following night; they have won six straight since then.
WAC tournament tickets available: Tickets for the Nov. 24-26 WAC Tournament in Reno are on sale. All-session passes are $34 for adults, $19 for senior citizens, students and children.
All seats for the event are general admission, which moves from the Virginia Street Gym to the Lawlor Events Center for the first time. Parking is included.
Single-session tickets are available at $10 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and children, and also include parking.
To buy tickets, call 1-800-225-2277 or go online at www.tickets.com. Tickets are also available at the Lawlor ticket office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays.
A tournament hotel fan rate is available at the Circus Circus by calling 1-800-894-3588 and mentioning the WAC volleyball tournament. Rooms are $29.99 on Nov. 23, and $89.99 Nov. 24-26.