Houston gets the sets in Wahine scrimmage
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Dani Mafua was having fun yesterday. And it showed in the way the sophomore setter ran her team's offense during the Hawaii women's volleyball intrasquad scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"I like the quicker offense, it's a lot more fun," she said. "I'm feeling confident and excited. I'm where I want to be in terms of my playing."
Mafua's team won the first two sets 26-24, 25-23. Junior setter Stephanie Brandt's team won the third set 25-22.
Victory traded sides with senior hitter Jamie Houston, who put down a scrimmage-high 25 kills. She was on the winning team in all three sets, switching to Brandt's squad for the third.
Just who will start in Friday's opener against Penn State is up in the air. Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji said he expects to name a starting lineup tomorrow.
"Then we'll have four days to get ready," Shoji said.
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There are no secrets when it comes to scouting the Hawaii women's volleyball team this season.
Senior hitter Jamie Houston will get the most sets.
The offense will be quicker, with a number of players taking swings out of the back row.
And plays will be designed to take advantage of the overall quickness and athleticism of the team.
The only question at the moment is: Who will be on the court when the season opens this Friday against defending national champion Penn State?
That should be answered as early as tomorrow, when Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji said he expects to announce a starting lineup. As some 60 boosters, family and friends saw during yesterday's scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center, it's not going to be an easy decision.
"A lot of good things were happening on both sides of the net today," said Shoji, entering his 34th season. "You can see the depth that we have because every game was competitive and close."
Setter Dani Mafua's team won the first two sets 26-24, 25-23 and setter Stephanie Brandt's team won Set 3 25-22. Houston, who finished with a match-high 25 kills, was on the winning side in all three sets as several players -- including the setters -- switched teams during the scrimmage.
"Those games could have gone either way," Shoji said. "Dani and Stephanie are both doing a nice job picking their spots and creating opportunities for their hitters.
"(The offense) is getting more comfortable for our team, we're doing what we want to do offensively, incorporating a lot of attack patterns. We are giving Houston a lot of swings, but other than that, I don't think you can predict where we are going to go (with a set)."
All 17 of the Wahine saw court time. The four freshmen -- hitter Kanani Herring, middle Brittany Hewitt and defensive specialists Emily Maeda and Sarah Prather -- had solid showings, particularly Herring.
Herring was blocked to tie Set 1 at 24, but after Houston put down her eighth kill, Herring came right back with a successful attack to win it for her team.
Set 2 was equally even, as Stephanie Ferrell tied it at 23 for Brandt's team. Houston put down another kill for Mafua's side, then blocked Amanda Simmons on a step-out for set point at 24-22.
Aneli Cubi-Otineru nailed one of her 12 kills to close to 24-23, only to have Amber Kaufman end it for Mafua's team.
At 23-22 in Set 3, consecutive kills by Kaufman and Houston gave Brandt's side the win.
Although the crowd was appreciative, the biggest cheer came after three words from Shoji.
"Camp is done," he said, officially concluding the fall preseason workouts.
The players have today off and return for an early-morning practice tomorrow before the start of school. The coaches still have some work to do.
"We want to announce the starting lineup Monday," Shoji said. "The coaching staff is going to meet and come up with not only our starters but also the alignment of the substitutions.
"There were a lot of good things on both sides of the net today. But we were only playing each other."