Thursday, August 13, 1998
the face(s) of
UH opens fall practice today,By Cindy Luis
minus Keala Nihipali and four
other players who left the team
in recent months
Fall practice opened today for Keala Nihipali and the University of Hawaii women's volleyball team. But Nihipali and the 14th-ranked Wahine were separated by 3,000 miles and three time zones when the first balls were tossed onto the respective gym floors.
On Tuesday, Nihipali officially received her release from the Wahine program, becoming the fifth player to depart since May. Today, she was home in Las Vegas, setting for Deitre Collins' UNLV Rebels.
"Keala loved Hawaii, but she had to choose between volleyball and UH," Nihipali's mother, Janie, said in a phone call from Las Vegas. "She decided she wanted to play volleyball and feels like she has a chance here (at UNLV) to play.
"Coaches have to make decisions and Keala had to make her decision. She loved being part of the program, she loved being a Wahine. I think she's happy that she'll have a chance to play."
Nihipali had been the No. 3 setter for the Wahine since arriving in 1996. She redshirted her first season, and last year played behind junior Nikki Hubbert and freshman Tehani Miyashiro.
Nihipali, a sophomore, will be on scholarship as UNLV's No. 2 setter behind senior Meri-de Boyer. Boyer is the younger sister of former Wahine All-American setter Cheri Boyer.
Hawaii coach Dave Shoji did not want to comment on Nihipali's departure, referring all questions to UH assistant athletic director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano. Nihipali is eligible to play this season despite transferring to a school within Hawaii's conference (Western Athletic Conference).
"Since we are not playing UNLV during this season and they won't be part of the WAC next year, there was no sense saying Keala had to sit out a year before playing," said Moniz-Ka-ho'ohanohano. "We have a new process for transfers, a written policy where athletes go through a procedure.
"I'm more involved in the process and I spoke with Keala quite a bit last week. We received the transfer paperwork from UNLV Monday."
The Wahine opened practice this afternoon with just nine scholarship players and two walk-ons. Setters Hubbert and Miyashiro remain 1-2 on the depth chart, with junior transfer Shelly Kim, a 5-foot-7 defensive specialist from Tennessee State, listed as No. 3.
Shoji had hoped to bring in a setter from Brazil to back up Hubbert, but the player didn't meet UH entrance requirements. There's a possibility that an outside hitter from China will join the team, but her paperwork is pending.
Earlier this month, senior captain Kelli Cordray decided not to return for her fourth year. Also gone are Jameka Stevens (California), Lori Garber (Texas Tech) and Kapu Elkington, who had planned to transfer to Utah, but has returned to the islands and will not play volleyball this year.
Wahine volleyball rosterPlayer Pos. Ht. Yr. Heather Bown MB 6-3 Jr. Adrianne Bradley MB 6-3 Fr. Nicole Huihui DS 5-8 Fr. Nikki Hubbert S 5-9 Sr. Heidi Illustre OH 5-10 Jr. Leah Karratti OH 5-9 Sr. Shelly Kim S/DS 5-6 Jr. Veronica Lima MB 6-2 Fr. Tehani Miyashiro S/DS 5-7 So. Jennifer Roberts MB 6-2 Jr. Jessica Sudduth OH 6-2 So.