RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL
Wahine hope to find win in thin air
Hawaii is hitting the road to play a difficult Nevada team at altitude
It is a business trip but it doesn't mean it can't include a little fun.
The Hawaii volleyball team didn't completely miss out on Halloween when taking a red-eye flight out last night. Before yesterday's practice, Rainbow Wahine players discussed wearing costumes on the plane while associate coach Mike Sealy was deciding whether to travel as Winnie the Pooh or Tigger.
NO. 16 HAWAII AT NEVADA
When: Tomorrow, 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
TV: Live, Oceanic Dig. 247
And Dave Shoji? The UH head coach's options included rapper Flavor Flav, host of VH1's celebreality show "The Flavor of Love."
"I've got the clock," he said of Flav's signature neckwear.
The rapper said he began wearing a clock because he wanted people to know what time it was. Shoji knows the time has come for his team to step it up.
No. 16 Hawaii is at Nevada tomorrow, which has been a difficult place to play. The Wahine lost the first time they went to Reno in 1992 and, while UH has won the next 13 times in Virginia Street Gym, it has gone five twice and four six times.
It's been a combination of good Wolf Pack teams and unpredictable air. When Nevada hung on in five to hand New Mexico State its only conference loss this year, Wolf Pack coach Devin Scruggs credits the air for the victory as much as anything.
"New Mexico State lost on serves," she said of the Aggies' 12 service errors, including the one that ended the match. "Their serves kept flying out.
"The ball doesn't drop here like it does at sea level."
It will affect how the Wahine serve, Shoji said.
"We know we'll have to back down on serves," he said. "The ball floats there, doesn't drop.
"You can't prepare for the altitude, you can't practice for the dryness and what the ball does. The good thing is we'll have a day to practice."
As they did yesterday -- and every practice day -- Hawaii continued to work on passing and defense. If the Wahine want to run their multi-pronged offense efficiently and effectively, the passing has to be on.
"If we can pass well and get a good swing, we can score from anywhere on the court," Shoji said. "If we pass well, we pretty much have everybody involved in the offense. If we don't, we have (Sarah) Mason and (Jamie) Houston.
"We have been too much left side. We need more out of our middles. They're hitting for a high percentage and that takes the pressure off our outside hitters."
Scruggs said her team's focus was on blocking, especially on stopping Houston. The sophomore hitter had 18 kills when Hawaii swept Nevada early last month at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Even though it is a Thursday, Scruggs said she was anticipating a large crowd tomorrow as well as a good match.
"We don't need to market it much," she said. "People seem to know when Hawaii is coming to town."
The Wahine are preparing for a tougher match than the one they had last month with the Wolf Pack.
"We know they won't roll over and die," junior defensive specialist Raeceen Woolford said. "Nevada has always been a competitive team and we'll really have to focus on taking care of business on our side."
This road trip will provide quite a contrast between Nevada (big crowd, small gym) and Utah State (small crowd, large arena).
"Our concerns with Nevada is they have experienced players who fight pretty hard, and good fans," Shoji said. "Their environment is set up for them to win.
"We are concerned about Utah State, too. But not until Friday."