Wahine take 10-game streak on trip
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The trick is to learn from the past and improve for the future, all while staying focused on the present.
The 12th-ranked Hawaii volleyball team looks to complete another hat trick when it takes on Boise State tomorrow in the first of three Western Athletic Conference matches in five days. While the itinerary is not quite as difficult as the one last month -- playing in three time zones at Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and San Jose State -- the Rainbow Wahine are looking to duplicate the outcome and again go 3-0.
"It will be colder this time," Hawaii sophomore defensive specialist Jayme Lee said of the trek that also includes Idaho and Utah State. "But we're used to playing in different atmospheres and we're ready to take on whatever comes at is.
"I think we've been through the worst of our road trips with our last one, but teams are always tougher when they're playing at home. We have to be focused and play at the same level we were at the last time."
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii sophomore Amber Kaufman and senior Caroline Blood stretched before a recent practice.
Not to be greedy, because 13-3 is looking pretty good right now. And 7-0 in conference? Can't beat that.
But ask Dave Shoji if this is what he thought his volleyball team's record would be at this point in the season and the Hawaii coach shakes his head ... not so much as to say "no" but as to say "it could be better."
No. 12 Hawaii at Boise State
When: Tomorrow, 3 p.m. HST
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Series: Hawaii leads 14-0
Next: at Idaho Saturday, 4 p.m. HST
To be sure, those two losses to Michigan and Oregon State the opening week of the season are matches he feels the Rainbow Wahine would win now. But he also acknowledges that three other wins -- against Colorado State, Wichita State and New Mexico State -- could just as easily have been losses since Hawaii needed five sets to down the Rams, the Shockers and the Aggies.
"From where we came from (at the beginning of the season) to where we are, I'm happy about that," he said. "I didn't have expectations of our record but now I think we could have had just one loss at this point (to current No. 4 UCLA).
"We have played a hard schedule. We could easily have five losses."
Instead, Hawaii packed a 10-match win streak when it left last night for its second road trip of the year. The Rainbow Wahine see two teams they swept last month at the Stan Sheriff Center -- Idaho tomorrow and Boise State Saturday -- and face Utah State for the first time this year on Monday.
It's a kinder itinerary than the first trip last month that included three states in three time zones over five days. Still, it's an adjustment to weather, playing environment and -- likely -- a different mind-set from the opponent.
"Both Boise and Idaho didn't play their best when they were here," Shoji said. "And we could get lulled into a false sense of security. Both should play better at home.
"We're not so good that we can just go in and win, no matter how we play. The task that we have on this trip is to go in, play well and execute well."
If the Wahine need a reminder about staying focused when the competition isn't expected to be tough, they can look no further than Game 3 of last Sunday's match against Fresno State. The Bulldogs won that 30-13, a combination of Fresno State stepping up its game and Hawaii's disintegrating.
Shoji had substituted half of his lineup -- setter and both middles -- but he said the problem wasn't the new players. It was a breakdown in basic skills, things that had greatly improved during the past month.
"But I did like our resiliency after losing that one," sophomore defensive specialist Jayme Lee said. "We were up 2-0, got blown out in the third, came back and didn't let that affect us. We were having fun ... for the three games we played well.
"We have to have the mind-set that any team on any day can get beat, that's a big thing. You never know what's going to happen and we have to have that mind-set to be focused on whatever we're doing all the time."
The focus first is on the Broncos (4-12, 1-7) before thinking about the Vandals (8-9, 4-2) on Saturday. Hawaii finishes the trip with the Aggies (9-8, 6-2), expected to be the toughest opponent of the three, although the Wahine did have problems last year at Boise State before winning 30-28, 30-32, 32-30, 30-22.
The Wahine travel roster is at 12 instead of 13 with freshman Stephanie Ferrell, who made the last trip, staying behind to rehab a sprained ankle.
| ||Conference|| ||Overall
| ||W ||L ||Pct. ||W ||L
|Hawaii ||7 ||0 ||1.000 ||13 ||3
|New Mexico State ||7 ||1 ||.875 ||16 ||3
|Utah State ||6 ||2 ||.750 ||9 ||8
|Idaho ||4 ||2 ||.667 ||8 ||9
|Nevada ||4 ||3 ||.571 ||7 ||7
|Fresno State ||2 ||6 ||.250 ||4 ||14
|San Jose State ||1 ||5 ||.167 ||7 ||10
|Boise State ||1 ||7 ||.125 ||4 ||12
|LaTech ||1 ||7 ||.125 ||6 ||15