STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
Jamie Houston says she's ready to take more of a leadership role this season.
Wahine look good -- and then ragged
The Hawaii volleyball team opens practice with two-a-days and a scrimmage
| READ THE FULL STORY
Dave Shoji figured a scrimmage on the opening day was the best way for the Hawaii women's volleyball team to get fully acquainted.
Four newcomers were worked into the fold for the defending Western Athletic Conference champions, including three-time Star-Bulletin high school player of the year Kanani Herring out of Kamehameha.
"We've messed around before, but it takes a little while to get used to one another," said junior setter Stephanie Brandt. "They're good hitters, and they can adapt. Obviously, it's going to work itself out. But the first couple of practices take a little bit of getting used to."
The season opener is Aug. 29 against defending national champion Penn State.
FULL STORY »
By the end of Hawaii's first day of practice for the 2008 volleyball season, Dave Shoji reminded himself to temper his expectations a bit.
The Rainbow Wahine, picked to win their 13th straight Western Athletic Conference championship, began two weeks of two-a-day practice sessions yesterday by working on techniques and fundamentals in the morning, then mixed things up with team drills and a nontraditional scrimmage in the afternoon. For the most part, each of the 15 players on the roster got an even look.
Shoji was impressed at the team's readiness after the morning, saying, "I thought everybody looked pretty good for the first day -- it didn't look like a typical first day. We got some young players, but they held their own. Everybody reported in pretty good shape. It was very, very encouraging."
By the completion of the second session, though, he saw promise -- just not quite what he had envisioned.
"The afternoon session was a little rough around the edges," Shoji said. "For the first day, you don't expect much, but we're just so far away from being ready as a team."
He got his first real look at scholarship freshmen Kanani Herring (5-foot-10 hitter, Kamehameha) and Brittany Hewitt (6-4 middle, Eagle, Ind.) and Arkansas transfer Cat Fowler (6-2). Walk-on freshman Emily Maeda (Roosevelt) also participated.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Coach Dave Shoji curbed his enthusiasm a little following the afternoon practice.
Senior Jamie Houston, last year's WAC player of the year and this season's preseason pick to repeat for the honor, appeared sharp in her return to action.
She envisions herself assuming more of a leadership role this year after averaging 5.51 kills per game as a junior.
"I'm just working hard and doing the same things I did last year, but getting better at it. I think it's getting there. I don't think (my technique) is where I want it to be yet, but ... each day that we come in here, I'm going to get better."
Juniors Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman were also selected as preseason all-conference first-teamers at outside hitter and middle, respectively.
Senior hitter Tara Hittle thinks she's back in volleyball mode since last flexing her muscles as a forward for the Wahine basketball team in the spring.
"I think I always have it with me. It's just a matter of, you know, you just get a little rusty and a couple days back and you feel OK," Hittle said.
Expectations are high for not just the team, but for Herring, who led Kamehameha to three straight state titles and picked up three straight Star-Bulletin Player of the Year awards along the way.
She offered some glimpses of her potential in the scrimmage, slamming a few balls to the court at leftside hitter.
"My expectations were that we came here to work, and it's not a slow start, we just come out and play," Herring said. "It's competing for our spots and you just can't expect to progress slowly and get a starting spot. You gotta get it now."
That was perhaps part of the rationale for Shoji to break with tradition and have a scrimmage on the opening day.
"Kind of threw 'em out there," Shoji said. As for Herring, "I kind of expected (Kanani's) numbers to be what she produced today. Offensively, ball control and defensively, (she) was fine. Just gotta work a little bit offensively, which I fully expected."
Tickets on sale tomorrow
Individual match tickets for the season go on sale tomorrow with prices reduced between $1 to $4 in most categories.
Upper-level adult seats are $12, $4 less than last year, while lower-level seats have been reduced by $2 to $17. The only categories unchanged are the $10 senior citizen's and $3 UH student tickets.
There is also a new "Family Pack" for the upper level. With the purchase of two adult tickets, fans can get a free student ticket (ages 4 through high school) for each student ticket bought.
Rates for groups of 20 or more are available by calling 956-9630.
Super Rooter /Manoa Maniacs lower-level tickets of $5 will go on sale Aug. 25.
Tickets are available online at HawaiiAthletics.com, by phone at 944-2697 or at the Stan Sheriff Center box office. The Rainbow Wahine open Aug. 29 against defending national champion Penn State.