Wahine go back to beginning
Two words: identity theft.
That was the focus yesterday as the Hawaii women's volleyball team returned to the practice gym after going 1-2 last week.
The 16th-ranked Rainbow Wahine seek to regain their collective self image of what "Wahine volleyball" stands for, as well as find themselves as a team.
"We have to focus on playing as a team," junior captain Tara Hittle said. "It's like the human body where all the parts have a job to do to make the body work. Everyone has the heart. Everyone has the talent. We just need to work together to make it work."
The losses to Michigan and Oregon State were shocking to say the least. The struggle in defeating Colorado State was somewhat baffling.
And the team has just three practices before hosting the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic. The field is expected to be a tougher challenge than last week's ASICS Invitational, with No. 25 Kansas State (3-0) on Friday, Louisville (3-0) on Sunday and No. 5 UCLA (1-1) on Monday.
The revolving door that is Hawaii's lineup was spinning yesterday. Wahine coach Dave Shoji has gone back to square one when it comes to starters.
"Basically, we're starting over," he said. "Everybody's back in the mix. I don't think anybody's a lock to start. We're opening it up again."
Last week, Shoji used 13 of his available 17 players. Not seeing the court were two defensive specialists (senior Raeceen Woolford and sophomore Rayna Kitaguchi), one middle (senior Caroline Blood) and one hitter (freshman Stephanie Ferrell).
Ferrell, a potential redshirt, was with the team Friday but left Saturday to return to Los Angeles for a family matter. She is expected to return either tomorrow or Friday.
Hawaii hopes the level of play exhibited during preseason practices also returns. The problem is putting together the right pieces to solve the puzzle.
"It was shocking because we have so much talent on this team," sophomore hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru said. "But sometimes you have to go to the bottom to learn the way back up. Losing sucks but it's not a bad thing. We can turn it into a positive thing and learn from it. We need to focus and learn how to push through in the tough situations."
Prime examples were the end of Game 5 on Friday against Michigan and the end of Game 1 on Sunday vs. Oregon State. Hawaii led 14-12 against the Wolverines but couldn't close, falling behind 18-16; against the Beavers, the Wahine were up 29-26 only to lose 33-31.
"If we had gone 3-0, we wouldn't be having these conversations," Shoji said. "We were that close to being 2-0 and if we had won Game 1 Sunday, then maybe it's a lot easier (the rest of the match).
"It wasn't just one thing, it was a whole bunch of things last week. Passing was poor, ball control was bad, blocking was not good. We had breakdowns in just about every phase of our game."
And this week?
"Going 0-3 is a definite possibility," he said. "We intend to do something about that."