RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL
UH's WAC loss about as rare as a quake
Shoji is disappointed with what he calls "a team meltdown"
It was a relief to get back to normal yesterday afternoon.
Or as normal as possible after their two worlds -- volleyball and island -- had been rocked within 40 hours of each other.
No. 11 Hawaii was back in the natural lighting of Gym I yesterday afternoon, hoping the last of the aftershocks was over. The Rainbow Wahine found comfort in their practice routine, even if the talk was of yesterday morning's 6.5-magnitude earthquake and not of the loss at New Mexico State that ended their conference winning streak at 114.
NOTRE DAME AT NO. 11 HAWAII
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.;
Tomorrow, 6 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
The goal was to focus on Notre Dame, the opponent tonight and tomorrow, and the end of the seven-matches-in-11-days schedule. And how to prevent the meltdown against the Aggies from reoccurring, while at the same time not dwelling on it ... something difficult to do when knowing they were so close to winning in four (leading 20-13) but ended up losing in five.
"I don't think it was fatigue," senior setter Kanoe Kamana'o said. "We were just one step short on everything we did. The pass was short, the set too short. It's not that we were struggling physically, but we did have a mental breakdown.
"Usually when you're ahead 20-13, you have the momentum, but they took it one point at a time and we couldn't get the momentum back on our side. It's not that we were playing 'not to lose.' New Mexico State is tough, and when they got the momentum, they took control. We couldn't get it going again."
The meltdown was more disturbing to Hawaii coach
Dave Shoji than the actual loss.
"We had breakdowns in just about every phase," he said. "Passing, hitting, setting ... the block wasn't very good at the end.
"I can't say that fatigue was a factor. You don't go up 20-13 and suddenly fatigue hits you at the one instant. I don't want to use that as an excuse. It was pretty much a team meltdown. It's pretty disappointing in the sense that I felt we were the better team and that we had been able to play through these things and win on the road.
"I guess the law of averages caught up with us."
The same can be said about the number of injuries, the latest a potential season-ending knee injury to sophomore Jessica Keefe. The right-side hitter went down after putting down the match-ending kill at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday; she was scheduled to have an MRI yesterday, but the power outage at the hospital postponed it until today.
Keefe watched practice from the sideline yesterday, an immobilization wrap on her left knee and crutches nearby. She said she did not want to discuss the injury until she had gotten the official diagnosis. Keefe tore the ACL in her right knee during her senior year in high school.
Already done for the year are junior hitter Tara Hittle (ankle) and sophomore middle Nickie Thomas (knee). The three made up Hawaii's recruiting class of 2004; both Thomas and Keefe redshirted in the fall of 2004.
"It's been a pretty unique year, losing three top players for the season," Shoji said. "Last year, we lost people, but we got them back.
"We just have to regroup. The hard part is we can't practice as hard as we want to, with games tomorrow and Tuesday. When you have breakdowns, you need to work on technique, which is what we're doing today."
With Keefe out at least for these next two matches, junior middle Caroline Blood has become more of a factor. The junior softball-player-turned-middle-blocker is 4-for-4 in kills this season and joined the team late Thursday.
"It was exciting to make my first trip, but the circumstances were upsetting," said Blood, who did not play against New Mexico State. "The bad thing is I had to fly home by myself (Saturday).
"Usually, I'm here when they're on the road and I'm listening on radio. Being there and seeing it was really upsetting."
Note: The Stan Sheriff Center didn't appear to have suffered any damage yesterday, arena manager Rich Sheriff said. The arena's generator was operational, allowing for emergency lighting. Sheriff spent a little time sweeping up what appeared to be bits of insulation and dust that had come from the roof.