W A H I N E _ V O L L E Y B A L L

The Challenge
begins for Wahine

Kansas State and Illinois State
open a triple-header in the
Aston Imua Challenge

By Cindy Luis

From the Land of Oz to the Land of Ahs. That's how Jim McLaughlin sees his journey to the Aston's Imua Wahine Volleyball Challenge.

The former coach of the Southern California men's team is in his first year as coach of the Kansas State women. He said he enjoys the change because "the women's game is doing it right."

"The women's (collegiate volleyball) world is a much bigger world," said McLaughlin, whose Wildcats opened today's tournament at noon against Illinois State. "It's sad that the men's (collegiate) game doesn't have the support and the opportunities that the women do.

"It's not that big of a change in terms of coaching for me, but it's different in the commitment across the country. And it's very neat to get to open in Hawaii."

No one does volleyball better than the University of Hawaii, which has led the nation in attendance for both women's and men's teams since the Special Events Arena opened in the fall of 1994. McLaughlin was eager to have his squad experience the volleyball interest as well as the islands.

"I don't think anyone on my team has been here before," said McLaughlin, who had three starters returning from last year's 26-9 team. "And I think the quality of competition is going to be very good. We're looking forward to playing someone other than ourselves.

"I like our returning starters and I think we've got some talent. I'll have more information about where we're going to be after this weekend."

McLaughlin wasn't sure about being in Kansas. Born and raised in Malibu, Calif., he said it was more of an adjustment to living in the Midwest than switching from the men's game to the women's.

"I surfed every day when I was growing up and I had never lived in the Midwest," said McLaughlin, who spent last year as an assistant at Notre Dame. "But I like the Midwest. You get to experience a lot of different things. Even the recruiting is different."

He mentioned a recruiting trip to Nebraska where he turned onto a dirt road before coming to the home of a prospective player. It was a pig farm with a silo in front.

McLaughlin doesn't seem to mind taking the road less traveled. As a rookie head coach, his Trojans won the 1990 NCAA title; he was looking at an assistant's job with USA Volleyball men's program when K-State called.

"I wasn't sure if I wanted to be there, but the people are great and it's an awesome place to live," he said. "I live five minutes away from school and there's no traffic."

He's not in California any more.

Following its noon contest with Illinois State, K-State plays the University of San Francisco at 5:30 p.m.

In tonight's 7:30 feature game, host Hawaii takes on Illinois State.

"I can't wait to get started," said Wahine senior co-captain Cia Goods. "People don't think we're going to be as skilled as we were last year but we are. We're going to surprise a lot of people who have doubts.

"We know Illinois State plays a style like ours. That makes it more exciting. And if the game's exciting, it's easier for us to get into it."

The facts

What: Aston Imua Challenge
Where: Special Events Arena
When: Today: Kansas St. vs. Illinois St. noon; Kansas St. vs. San Francisco, 5:30 p.m.; Illinois St. vs. Hawaii, 7:30 p.m. Sunday: Hawaii vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.; San Francisco vs. Illinois State, 5 p.m. Hawaii vs. Kansas State, 7 p.m.
On the air: Hawaii matches live on KFVE and KCCN 1420-AM
Tickets: $7, $6, $4

1997 UH Wahine Volleyball Schedule

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