rivalry with Pacific
Hawaii and UOP meet againBy Cindy Luis
after a year's hiatus, but first up is
unranked but formidable Pepperdine
Before Stanford, before Long Beach State, there was Pacific. A decade of teams have come and gone but fans and coaches remember when the match of the Wahine volleyball season was UOP-Hawaii.
The battles in Klum Gym and the Spanos Center in Stockton became annual epics, the outcomes often determining which of the teams would be the new No. 1 in the following week's poll. Several times it meant the conference title and the difference between life and death in postseason play.
Three times it meant who would go on to claim the national title.
Like an old friend coming in for a reunion, Pacific is back this week to renew a rivalry and, perhaps, revise some history. With Hawaii moving from the Big West to the WAC last season, UOP wasn't on the Wahine schedule for the first time since 1976.
"We missed playing them last year after it was happening for so many years," UOP coach John Dunning said. "My first year in 1985, we played five times. The next two years, we played four times each year. Right off the bat, we got into this often-happening battle over important things.
"In my mind, they're our longest, biggest rival. But I'll be starting four sophomores (Sunday) who've never played Hawaii in their careers and they're not even sure how big any rivalry is."
Wahine coach Dave Shoji doesn't want his team to get too far ahead of itself, however. First on the agenda is unranked but unbeaten Pepperdine.
"We're not even talking about UOP yet," said Shoji. "Pepperdine is foremost in our minds. We need to do a better job than we did last week, otherwise we won't beat Pepperdine.
"Pepperdine is a very good team. They've been down for a couple years but they've got some seniors, some size and are a good ball-handling team."
The tables are turned for the Waves, who have found the Wahine impossible to beat for almost 20 years. Hawaii leads the series, 17-2, with both Pepperdine wins coming in five sets in 1978.
The Waves already have defeated two WAC teams: Fresno State in five to open the season and New Mexico in four last Saturday in Albuquerque, where coach Nina Matthies picked up her 250th career win. They return four starters from a team that finished 13-11 overall and in the middle of the West Coast Conference. They were picked to finish second behind current No. 15 Loyola Marymount in the WCC preseason poll.
Pepperdine is tall and experienced. Six-foot senior outside hitter Nicole Sanderson is averaging 3.93 kills a game, 6-foot junior middle Anna Witkowski leads the team in blocking and senior setter Becci Roehl has her team hitting at a .241 clip.
"They're not going to be a pushover," Wahine assistant Charlie Wade said of Pepperdine. "And Pacific is a very physical, experienced team. I think they're a legitimate final-four candidate."
Nationally, Pacific dropped a spot to No. 8 after losing in five at No. 5 Nebraska Saturday. A vocal crowd of 4,318 saw the Cornhuskers extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 36 with a 15-12, 15-6, 12-15, 10-15, 17-15 win over the Tigers.
Junior hitter Elsa Stegemann was lost for the season when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament in Game 5. Senior All-American Addie Hauschild recorded her first career triple-double with 12 kills, 15 digs and a career-high 13 blocks against Nebraska.
Stegemann's loss will force Pacific to regroup somewhat, but the Tigers were 3-0 before Stegemann returned from playing for the U.S. at the World University Games.
Pacific will take on Pepperdine Saturday in a 2 p.m. game where no admission will be charged.
"We're going to be playing two good teams this weekend," said Dunning. "Pepperdine is a scary team. Like playing Hawaii isn't a scary proposition?
"What scares me about Hawaii is playing them in Hawaii. It's a challenge with the travel and the crowd. That's why we went to Nebraska last week. To see how good we are in the most difficult situations."
"I don't think our players understand how it used to be with UOP," said Shoji, whose teams have a 32-23 series lead over the Tigers. "Certainly our fans will remember."
The factsWhat UH Wahine volleyball
Where Special Events Arena
Tomorrow Pepperdine (7-0) vs. Hawaii (5-1)
Saturday Pepperdine vs. Pacific (5-1)
unday Pacific vs. Hawaii
Tickets $9, $7, $6, $4.
On the air Hawaii matches live on KFVE and on KCCN (1420-AM)
1997 UH Wahine