RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL
Shoji to decide if Kaufman redshirts
A dozen practices down, a dozen more to go.
Opening night for the Hawaii volleyball team is fast approaching, much like the quick attack of the Rainbow Wahine outside hitters and middles.
"It's a lot faster than I thought," freshman hitter Amber Kaufman said, comparing the offense of the collegiate game to that of high school. "It's as hard as I was expecting. But probably the hardest adjustment is understanding that I'm not going to be playing and have a lot of things to work on."
But Kaufman, a California state prep high jump champion, should not be so quick to jump to that conclusion. Hawaii coach Dave Shoji is mulling a number of options, one of which is to not redshirt the 6-foot Kaufman, who has been playing in the middle for most of fall camp.
"Kaufman is way ahead of where I thought she'd be," Shoji said. "I want to have her as an option right now."
With the amount of talent the seventh-ranked Wahine have returning, Shoji has numerous alternatives. However, if Hawaii were to open tonight against No. 19 Pepperdine -- instead of Aug. 25 -- he said he'd go with Kanoe Kamana'o at setter, Tara Hittle and Jamie Houston on the left side, Sarah Mason on the right, and Kari Gregory and Nickie Thomas in the middle.
Health issues have again played a part in the lineup, as they did last year. Migraine headaches sidelined all-conference middle Juliana Sanders for four practices -- she was back yesterday afternoon -- and has put her a little behind.
Mason's move to the right was anticipated, but it also will put less stress on her right (hitting shoulder). The senior has a torn labrum, which is an injury to the shoulder joint.
"My shoulder is OK," Mason said. "I've been able to rest it. Plus, I don't have to take as many swings, being on the right."
No. 2 on the depth chart on the right is sophomore Jessica Keefe whom Shoji said has one of the livelier arms on the team.
"Offensively, she can get the job done," he said.
No decision has been made about libero/defensive specialist where there is one fewer candidate as of yesterday. Junior transfer Maile Adolphson from San Diego has decided to not continue the tryout process, leaving seven players in the competition.
"It's going to be very difficult," Shoji said of making cuts. "They're all solid volleyball players. Once we get a regular rotation, we'll see if the others want to stick it out. We'll probably make an evaluation at the end of the week."
The remaining defensive players are: junior Raeceen Woolford; redshirt freshmen Jayme Lee and Rayna Kitaguchi; and sophomore transfers Elise Duggins, Makana Recca and Spenser Rigg. Junior middle Caroline Blood is also in the defensive mix.