FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alicia Arnott, a La Pietra alumna, has put the team first even though she has a smaller role in the Rainbow Wahine offense this season, with her kill attempts down nearly 1,000 from when she led the team last season with 4.09 kills per game. The team plays Missouri tomorrow in the third round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
Arnott content to contribute with new role
The Hawaii junior's unique disposition allows her to find fun despite moving from kills leader to in-and-out sub
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. » As any surfer knows, it's the next ride that will be the best. That's the promise that is the lure, that creates the addiction.
Even when it's small, waiting for the next set is still better than doing most anything else.
It's how Alicia Arnott approaches her volleyball career. A year after starting every match and leading the 31-1 Hawaii volleyball team in kills last season, the junior hitter is now often camped out on the sidelines, a "call me if/when you need me" role player.
At Rec Hall (6,846), State College, Pa.; all times Hawaii time
» No. 7 Hawaii (27-6) vs. No. 10 Missouri (26-8), 11 a.m.
» No. 2 Penn State (31-2) vs. No. 15 Tennessee (23-8), 30 minutes after first match ends
» Tomorrow's winners, 11 a.m.
ON THE AIR
Radio: UH matches live, KKEA (1420-AM)
TV: UH matches live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
While many might find the situation an emotional wipeout, Arnott sees it differently. As long as the Rainbow Wahine continue to win, she is content to contribute from the shadows, to wait for the next ride, no matter how small.
"I've never been one for the spotlight," Arnott said as seventh-seeded Hawaii prepared for tomorrow's NCAA sweet 16 match with Missouri. "For most people, it might be hard, but for me it's not.
"This is a team sport, and the season has been pretty fun. Everyone on our team is having a really good time. Of course, it helps when your team is
playing really well, like we are, and we beat a really good team at their home (Texas last Saturday)."
Arnott played a role in the 3-1 win over the Longhorns, Hawaii's 21st in a row, the one that brought the Wahine here to Penn State. Mostly it was from the back row, where she had four digs in three games, and an ace that gave Hawaii game point at 29-18 in a Game 2 that turned the match around.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Despite reduced playing time, Alicia Arnott finds ways to contribute, with kills, aces and digs.
It's a different perspective for Arnott, far different from when she averaged a team-best 4.09 kills a game and took 1,325 swings. But it's a view the La Pietra product is enjoying, even though her kill attempts have dropped by nearly 1,000 (currently 342).
"It's kind of fun when you're in and out of a game," she said. "When you're on the court, it's tunnel vision. When you're not on the court, you can look around, see what's going on on both sides.
"It's nice to be able to get two different perspectives and put them together. Like Texas. The whole game was fun."
Arnott especially enjoyed watching teammate Sarah Mason tee off for 15 kills. The two began playing organized volleyball together in their preteen days growing up on the Big Island. Ironically, when Mason transferred from Oregon after last season, it was Arnott whom she replaced.
All Arnott can say is, "Sarah is such an awesome player. It's been so tough for her to be injured a lot this season. I'm happy she's back. It's good to have her on our side."
Arnott's attitude is both admired and appreciated by her coaches and teammates.
"Alicia's been lost in the shuffle this year," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "But she's very valuable to us. It's a tough situation she's in, but Alicia is already ready to do whatever we need her to do. And she does it.
"What I like is how unselfish she is," senior middle Victoria Prince said. "She is so team-oriented, very supportive of everyone. Her serving is great and she can really crack the ball from the back row.
"Off the court, she doesn't like to sit too long. On road trips, she's always the one wanting to work out, go look for a gym."
Arnott is known for her work -- and workout -- ethic. And her dislike of airplane travel is legendary ... if only she could turn the wait into weights, she'd be doing bench presses.
It is no surprise that Arnott is majoring in kinesiology, the study of body movement. Her future may include physical therapy but probably not volleyball.
"I'm pretty much done with volleyball after next season," she said. "I've been playing for a long time."
After her volleyball career is over, Arnott sees herself going into endurance sports. A member of Outrigger Canoe Club, she'd like to eventually compete in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, the women's Molokai-to-Oahu race.
"It looks like a really good challenge and it would be fun if I could do it with my friends," Arnott said. "I enjoy paddling, it's completely different from volleyball. I really like the outdoors and being outside during the day.
"The one thing I hate about volleyball is sitting around all day before playing at night."
Except when it comes to this time of year and the NCAA tournament. Even if it means standing around on the sidelines.
"This is going to sound easy to say, but it's true," she said. "This time of the season is all about survival. It doesn't matter who is playing. It's not about any one person on the team.
"If we win, every single person should be happy, no matter what their stats were, no matter how many minutes they played. It's about your team beating the other team and advancing.
"And for us, there is a lot more to our season."
As usual, Arnott is just hanging in the lineup, waiting to catch that next wave, and maybe riding it all the way back to the final four in San Antonio.
UH's Shoji named region's best coach
Hawaii women's volleyball coach Dave Shoji was selected yesterday as the Tachikara/AVCA Division I Pacific Region Coach of the Year.
This is the eighth regional award for Shoji, who led the Rainbow Wahine to a 27-6 record and into tomorrow's regional semifinal with Missouri. Seventh-seeded Hawaii takes a 21-match win streak into its match with the Tigers.
Shoji was also named the region winner in 1987, '88, '89, '95, '98, 2003 and 2004. Earlier this season he was selected as the coach of the NCAA Division I 25th Anniversary Team. He was also the National Coach of the Year in 1982.
Each of the honorees will represent their region on the Tachikara/AVCA National Coach of the Year ballot. The awards will be officially presented at the Tachikara/AVCA Coach of the Year and Victory Club Awards banquet in San Antonio on Thursday, Dec. 15, in conjunction with the AVCA convention.
Other region winners are: John Cook, Nebraska, Central; Janice Kruger, Maryland, East; Geoff Carlston, Ohio, Mideast; Mitch Jacobs, Marshall, Midwest; Debbie Brown, Notre Dame, Northeast; Jon Wallace, Santa Clara, Pacific; and Travis Houston, Western Kentucky, South.