Spartans have a knack for WAC tournament upsets
LAS CRUCES, N.M. » Upsets have been rare at the Western Athletic Conference volleyball tournament. But San Jose State has been a part of the two biggest.
In 2003, the sixth-seeded Spartans stunned second-seeded SMU in a semifinal.
Last night, No. 6-seed San Jose State topped No. 3 Utah State in a quarterfinal.
Until 2003, the biggest was when No. 2 beat No. 1.
It happened twice, in 1996 when second-seeded BYU downed top-seed Hawaii in five, and in 1998, when second-seeded Hawaii outlasted top-seed BYU in five, the longest match in NCAA history (3 hours, 31 minutes).
Hawaii got some good news long distance yesterday. Both of the high school seniors who orally committed to play for the Rainbow Wahine have sent in their national letters of intent.
Hawaii received letters yesterday from Kamehameha's Kanani Herring, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, and 6-4 middle Brittany Hewitt from Eagle, Idaho.
Herring, a two-time state player of the year, helped the Warriors to three state titles and is rated the No. 5 senior in the country by prepvolleyball.com. She was a member of the U.S. Youth National Team the past two years, earning the best receiver award at the NORCECA Girls Under-18 Championships last summer.
Hewitt helped her team to two straight state titles and is rated 29th nationally by prepvolleyball.com.
Giving a boost
Some 20 members of the Rainbow Wahine Volleyball Booster Club made the trek here, including first-year president Stanley Ching
. It's also Ching's first time at the Western Athletic Conference tournament, a combination of supporting the program and being on a fact-finding mission.
Hawaii will host next year's event and Ching was taking notes on everything from setup to the food in the hospitality room.
"The new board wants to be more involved, more responsive to what the needs of the program are," Ching said. "And next year we'll be more involved when hosting."
The Booster Club has 117 members, including off-island fans, parents of players and former Wahine players. One of the things the club has offered alumnae players is free membership in the club for a year.
"We want them to still feel a part of the program and belonging to the club is one way," he said. "Hopefully, they'll want to get involved and give something back besides playing in the alumnae game."
At the turnstile
With 800 all-session tickets sold and about 2,500 watching last night's feature match between No. 13 New Mexico State and Fresno State, this year's tournament has a ways to go before reaching the attendance marks set in 1998.
Those records came at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, with an average of 1,232 for 11 matches and a total of 13,554 over four days. The second-best attendance was also at the MGM Grand Garden in 1996 (1,048 average, 11,525 total).
No one doubts that the records will be obliterated next year when Hawaii hosts the tourney.
By the numbers
Hawaii allowed 50 points in yesterday's match against Boise State. It was the lowest point total of the year by one, besting the 51 scored by Louisiana Tech in Honolulu on Oct. 28. ... Boise State went into the tournament record book yesterday with the fewest kills (19); LaTech had 27 against Hawaii in 2002. The Broncos also had the lowest hitting percentage (minus-.018). ... Hawaii is 26-2 in tournament play, the only losses coming to BYU in 1996 and 1997.