Wahine too focused to miss Shoji, Wade
It's all about the routine.
Preparation. Practice. Winning.
No. 9 Hawaii at San Jose State
When: Today, 5 p.m. Hawaii time
Radio: Updates, KKEA (1420-AM).
For the Hawaii volleyball program, success in the Western Athletic Conference has become a habit. It hasn't seemed to matter who the opponent has been or which Rainbow Wahine have been on the court ... Hawaii has won 104 straight league matches.
Yesterday's routine was slightly different -- neither head coach Dave Shoji nor associate coach Charlie Wade were at practice in San Jose. But assistant Kari Anderson Ambrozich, who ran practice, doesn't expect the result to change when the Wahine face the Spartans tonight.
"It was just like any other day at practice," Ambrozich said in a phone interview. "It's a testament to how our players are, their maturity level. Obviously, without Dave and Charlie around, it could have gone either way. But it felt like any other day."
It was the first time Ambrozich had been left in charge in her nine years as an assistant. Yesterday, Shoji was still in Honolulu after watching his sons compete against each other for the state boys high school volleyball title Thursday; Wade was off recruiting.
"It was fun and exciting for me," Ambrozich said. "It feels good that Dave has confidence in me. It says something. It's big in my eyes.
"I hoped I provided the continuity for the team that nothing was different."
What was different was Spartan Gym. The 70-year-old facility has undergone a major renovation, reopening in September with a new ceiling, windows, scoreboards, lighting and refinished floor.
The Spartan volleyball program spent most of the past 14 years competing in The Event Center, including the only time San Jose State defeated the Wahine in 21 meetings on the SJSU campus.
Ambrozich was a junior reserve setter on that Wahine team, which fell in five to the hosts back on Sept. 14, 1993. That was also the first time that Craig Choate faced Hawaii as the SJSU coach; his teams have since lost 28 straight to the Wahine.
"We got into a tight situation with them and lost," Ambrozich recalled. "San Jose always seems to play us tough."
Shoji, who was scheduled to arrive in California at 6 this morning, has vivid memories of the battles with San Jose State in Spartan Gym. The schools have been in the same league since 1986.
"It's kind of a fun place to play," Shoji said. "They always have a big crowd for us and we expect for them to give us a spirited match.
"They had a tough loss (to Fresno State on Thursday) and sometimes teams bounce back strong to atone for the defeat. They're going to want to prove they're a better team than they showed."
The Spartans fell to the Bulldogs 30-28, 30-28, 30-32, 26-30, 15-13.
Choate told the Spartan campus newspaper that UH is not invincible.
"The stars will have to align, but they can be beaten," he said.