GREAT expectations? Dave Shoji knows all about those.
Wahine will be
looking for new identity
The University of Hawaii women's volleyball coach was having the round of his life last Thursday at Oahu Country Club. On the last hole, he lost a ball.
Despite the penalty and taking a 6 on the hole, Shoji finished with a 75. Ironically, '75 is the same year the former All-American setter took over the Hawaii program.
Shoji and the Wahine began a new season today with two-a-day workouts at the Special Events Arena. Later this week, they head to Maui for a team bonding experience.
While they might not need name tags to recognize each other, the loss of five senior starters will mean a totally different look this season. How that will translate in the win-loss is the big question.
It's been a while since the Wahine program lost a large senior class. The "Magnificent Seven" capped their stay with back-to-back titles in 1982-83. The "Fab Four" ended a career of frustration with the 1987 championship, the program's last.
What to expect in '97? A team looking for its own identity after being stamped by the indelible impressions of All-Americans Angelica Ljungquist and Robyn Ah Mow, two of the greatest players ever to wear a Wahine uniform.
Theirs are the giant shoes to be filled, the huge question marks that loom at setter and middle blocker.
Maybe more than anything, this group is going to need time. Time to gel. Time to learn to win.
And the multitudes of fans will have to learn patience. The Wahine went 66-4 over the past magical two years.
You're not going to see that kind of result the next two seasons. Especially with the near-lethal injection of a schedule Hawaii has this year.
No one will dare question Hawaii's strength of schedule. (Yes, Chris Marlowe, this means you).
Pacific and UCLA at home. Long Beach State and defending NCAA champ Stanford on the road. And, most likely, national title contender Brigham Young in the final of the WAC Tournament.
Shoji said his recruiting class is the best he's ever had. Junior All-Americans Tehani Miyashiro, Jamica Stevens and Jessica Sudduth are freshmen who could end up starting at some point this season.
But theirs is a heavy burden, the kind weighed down by mountainous expectations accompanied by tradition and fanfare.
Haleakala pales in comparison.
BEGINNING her climb into the coaching ranks is former Wahine setter Kari Anderson, the new assistant at UH. She fills the position left vacant when Charlie Wade was promoted to first assistant.
"The job is just awesome," said Anderson, who played from 1991-94. "I love it. I'm so glad to be back in volleyball. I thought when I graduated that I was ready to walk away, but it wasn't long before I knew I needed to be back involved."
While working in Liberty House's executive training program, Anderson stayed in touch with the sport by helping with the Rainbow Asics junior club. When the Wahine assistant's job became open, she applied but the position went to Debbie Murphy, an assistant at Colorado State.
Less then three weeks after Murphy accepted the job, she was diagnosed with leukemia and began treatments. Anderson was the logical replacement.
"I had such mixed emotions," said the 24-year-old Anderson. "I was happy for myself but I didn't want it to come because of someone else's tragedy.
"I just hope to do a good job. I can't describe how good I feel inside to be back."
It's good to see her back.
Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.