Wahine volleyball team splits exhibitionsSTORY SUMMARY »
Cal State Northridge won the best-of-three exhibition volleyball match, but Hawaii won the crowd's heart.
In an amazing show of resilience last night at the Stan Sheriff Center, the Rainbow Wahine held off 10 game points, spotting the Matadors a 14-4 lead in Game 3, before pulling it out 17-15.
Aneli Cubi-Otineru served 10 straight points in Hawaii's improbable comeback.
The Wahine couldn't quite carry the momentum over to their match with Nittaidai, falling to the Japanese team 21-25, 25-23, 15-11.
CSUN, which swept Nittaidai 25-23, 28-26 in yesterday's first match, takes a 2-0 record into Friday's second tripleheader. The Matadors face Saint Mary's at 4 p.m., then have a rematch with Hawaii at 5:30. The tournament concludes with the Wahine taking on the Gaels at 7 p.m.
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It didn't matter what happened the rest of the night. And the turnstile crowd of 3,179 at the Stan Sheriff Center had another 90 minutes of volleyball to watch.
The buzz in the arena wasn't about the Hawaii-Nittaidai match that capped the women's exhibition tripleheader ... although the Japanese team provided an energetic and entertaining brand of volleyball while rallying to beat the Rainbow Wahine in three.
No, the phrase that dominated the conversation was, "Whoa, Aneli."
Hawaii outside hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru made an amazing 10-0 serving run in Game 3 against Cal State Northridge in the middle match of the Spring Mini Tournament. Hawaii held off 10 game points in rallying from a 14-4 deficit to win it 17-15.
Hawaii couldn't quite carry over the momentum into the nightcap of the tripleheader, falling to Nittaidai 21-25, 25-23, 15-11. The Japanese team dropped yesterday's opening match to Cal State Northridge 25-23, 28-26.
St. Mary's replaces Nittaidai in Friday's tripleheader. The Gaels open with CSUN at 4 p.m., followed by the rematch between Hawaii and CSUN, then Hawaii-St. Mary's.
Wahine coach Dave Shoji said he would continue to experiment and use various lineups Friday, including moving Jamie Houston from left- to right-side hitter and alternating setters Stephanie Brandt and Dani Mafua.
One thing he doesn't expect is another serving run like Cubi-Otineru's.
"That's not something you see much in women's volleyball, or any volleyball, for that matter," Shoji said. "There were two pretty amazing streaks in that game. I'm not taking much credit for that win."
The Matadors had sewn up the best-of-three match against the Wahine when winning 26-24, 25-23. The coaches decided on a third set, with CSUN riding a 6-0 serving run by Angela Hupp to take a 13-2 lead.
At 14-4, Cubi-Otineru opened her extended stay on the service line with an ace. When she was done, Hawaii had gained game point at 15-14.
The Matadors tied it at 15 only to give up two straight points, the last when Stephanie Ferrell put down her ninth kill.
"I was pretty happy about us coming back like that," said Cubi-Otineru, who also had nine kills. "My thought was that I had nothing to lose and I might as well go all out (on the serve).
"I think we learned a lot tonight. We didn't have a lot of practice together and we didn't have Liz."
Libero Elizabeth "Liz" Ka'aihue was on the mainland for a family matter. Without her and with libero/defensive specialist Jayme Lee rehabbing from shoulder surgery, Shoji alternated Brandt and Mafua at setter and libero, occasionally throwing in Tara Hittle at libero, who practiced Monday after playing the past 10 weeks with the Wahine basketball team.
"We were pretty limited with the number of players we had," said Shoji, who had 10 players available. "We weren't real sharp but we also only had practice for five days.
"I thought Ferrell, (Amanda) Simmons and Dani got great game experience."