Wahine still putting the pieces together
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There's little turnaround time for the Hawaii women's volleyball team this week. After being swept by No. 5 UCLA on Monday, the 16th-ranked Rainbow Wahine head back into action with the Waikiki Beach Marriott Challenge that opens tomorrow.
The overall quality of the opponents -- Eastern Washington, Wichita State and No. 19 Santa Clara -- may not be as high as the past two weekends. But for Hawaii (3-3), still struggling to put the pieces together, this week is more about finding the competitive drive that has been at the heart of the program.
"We as a coaching staff have to appeal to their sense of pride," Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. "There's nothing tactical we could have done (against UCLA) to change things. We had to rely on their desire ... and we lost that.
"I'm not happy with anything that's going on on the court right now."
To have Shoji smiling again, the Wahine will need to do more than beat Eastern Washington (1-5) tomorrow. They need to look good doing it, with better ball control and focus on becoming the team they expected to be when the season started.
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How to fix what shouldn't be this broken.
That's the question No. 16 Hawaii needs to answer this week when getting back on the volleyball court. The Rainbow Wahine (3-3) look to rebound from the disheartening folding act against UCLA Monday with better performances in this week's Waikiki Beach Marriott Challenge.
Waikiki Beach Marriott Challenge
» No. 19 Santa Clara (5-1) vs. Wichita State (4-2), 5 p.m.
» Eastern Washington (1-5) at No. 16 Hawaii (3-3), 7 p.m.
» Eastern Washington vs. Santa Clara, 5 p.m.
» Wichita State at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
» Eastern Washington vs. Wichita State, 5 p.m.
» Santa Clara at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
TV: All matches live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: Hawaii matches live, 1420-AM
The Hawaii players know they have the tools to live up to the high expectations. However, mentally the tool belt has been empty, particularly when it comes to consistency and competitive drive.
The frustration has been obvious, on the court, on the sidelines and in the stands. The Wahine had today's practice to start making the attitude adjustment.
"It's disappointing in that we have mainly upperclassmen out there and this is happening," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "We've got to get focused.
"It's a lot of 'coach speak' but it's true. Eastern Washington is struggling but we cannot look past them. We need to work hard for every point, earn every point we get. The coaching staff's job is to motivate the players and we need to find the right method."
Perhaps yoga should be considered. UCLA coach Andy Banachowski said he's noticed a difference in his team since they started incorporating yoga into the practice routine a few years ago.
"It's helped our flexibility and there's a different demeanor on the court," he said. "They've stayed calm and focused."
It was evident Monday late in Game 1 when the Bruins saw their large lead turn into a 27-27 tie. UCLA steadied out while Hawaii couldn't.
As happened in the loss to Oregon State on Aug. 26, the Wahine lost a close Game 1 and wilted in the next two.
"I'd like to think that Game 1 is a little more indicative of how we can play," Shoji said. "As anyone can see, we're not a good team when we're not playing well against a good team."
It's going to take a team effort for Hawaii to become a good team. It begins with soul-searching.
"Everyone needs to think about how they played, on their own," sophomore hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru said. "We have to do more than what we're doing."
A look at the field:
Eastern Washington (1-5)
The Eagles, yet to play a home match, have struggled under interim head coach Irene Matlock. The team's lone win was an impressive comeback 3-2 victory over Colgate where EWU rallied after dropping the first two sets last Friday, Matlock's birthday.
The Eagles have been swept in three of their six matches, losing 3-0 to Saint Mary's, Arizona and San Francisco. They've also lost in four to Utah State and Oral Roberts.
Leading EWU are sophomore hitter Hayley Hills (3.68 kpg) and freshman middle Chenoa Coviare (2.23 kpg, 1.14 bpg).
Senior defensive specialist Kristen Ponce (Kamehameha '04) has one dig in one game.
Hawaii leads the series 3-0.
Wichita State (4-2)
The Shockers opened with a win over North Texas before falling to Kansas State (1-3) and Cal Poly (0-3) in their own Classic. They rebounded with three straight-set victories last weekend at the Denver Invitational, defeating DePaul, Auburn and the host Pioneers.
Senior setter Abby Harsh (12.53 apg) was named the MVP of last week's tourney as well as the Missouri Valley Conference player of the week yesterday. Joining her on the all-tournament team were sophomore hitter Emily Stockman (4.95 kpg) -- a teammate of Wahine captain Tara Hittle at Doherty High -- and junior libero Kelly Broussard (5.32 dpg).
Hawaii leads the series 1-0.
No. 19 Santa Clara (5-1)
The Broncos saw their perfect season -- five straight sweeps -- derailed when being swept at then-No. 7 Florida Saturday.
SCU, which has yet to play a home match, opened the year by claiming the Boise State Invitational with wins over Cal State Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio and the host team.
At the Florida Invitational, SCU downed N.C. State and Georgia Southern but were swamped by the Gators 30-18, 30-16, 30-24.
The Broncos are led by sophomore opposite Lindsy Evans (4.39 kpg) and junior hitter Brittany Lowe (3.47). Senior libero Caroline Walters averages 4.67 digs a game.
Junior defensive specialist Michelle Luxton (Punahou '05), a teammate of Wahine Aneli Cubi-Otineru on two state championship teams, has seen limited action in five matches.
Hawaii leads the series 7-0.