Ah-Hoy has Oregon State in hunt for an NCAA bid
POSTED: Friday, November 07, 2008
Oregon State has become one of the most popular destinations for local athletes from Hawaii.
Football is the main sport that has attracted home-grown players, but it isn't the only team in Corvallis, Ore., touched with the aloha spirit.
» School: Oregon State
» Height: 5-10
» Class: Junior
» Position: Setter
» High school: Kahuku '06
» Club team: North Shore Volleyball Club
The Beavers women's volleyball squad is in the middle of a turnaround season. Leading the way is junior setter Camilla Ah-Hoy.
The 2006 Kahuku graduate has catapulted the Beavers to a 14-10 record. Oregon State has already won as many Pac-10 matches as it had in the previous two seasons combined, and has a chance to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years.
"Our goal is to make the NCAAs," Ah-Hoy said. "We have to win at least three more out of the seven to make our goal."
Ah-Hoy is one of seven juniors who have been part of one of the most important classes in recent years at Oregon State.
Two years ago, the Beavers finished 3-24 and did not win a single conference match. Ah-Hoy was the starting setter her first season, but suffered a horrific knee injury, tearing her ACL in a freak accident that occurred on Friday the 13th.
"I went up to block, landed on (a teammate's) foot. Half of my foot was on her foot and the other half was on the ground. My knee just gave in and at first I thought it was a sprain, but I couldn't walk on it."
Ah-Hoy had an MRI done the following Monday, revealing the torn ligament. She knew her season was over, but had no idea the outlook would be so bad.
"They said it's possible you'll be out for 12 to 18 months," Ah-Hoy said. "I just started crying. I couldn't believe it'd be that long."
Fortunately, it was only a guess and Ah-Hoy set out to make sure it wouldn't take that long. After suffering through a painful rest of the season in which she said "it made me sick" to watch from the sidelines, she gave up the chance to come home in order to rehab on the mainland.
"It was hard for me because I'm really close to my family and it was my freshman year and I was homesick," she said. "But if I went home it would have taken me that long to recover, so I stayed up here."
After five months, she was already back running, and within nine months, she was on the volleyball court. By the time her sophomore season started, Ah-Hoy was back as the team's top setter.
She made it through the season, and although not 100 percent, she finished with 468 assists, the sixth-most by a Beavers sophomore. The team improved its win total by seven games, including a five-set victory at No. 4 UCLA that opened the eyes of a lot of players on the team, including Ah-Hoy.
"We were starting from the bottom basically, and I ended up getting hurt (my freshman year), so we were still trying to come together," she said. "I think we saw that we were getting better playing with each other and knowing how each other plays and that was a big step."
The Beavers rolled into this season optimistic about their chances, but understanding that they play in one of the most brutal conferences in the country.
Oregon State opened its conference season with four straight matches against teams ranked in the top eight. After being swept at No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 California, the Beavers opened the home conference slate with a five-set victory over No. 4 USC before dropping another five-set thriller against No. 5 UCLA. Even though they were 1-3 to start, the Beavers cracked the Top 25 for the first time in Ah-Hoy's career.
"I think the Pac-10 is the best conference for volleyball," Ah-Hoy said. "It's so different from high school and I was shocked at first, but I've gotten used to it and it's so much fun.
"I'm somewhat happy with where we're at now, but we still have a lot more left to do."
Three wins in their last seven matches would really help the Beavers' chances for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The good part about that stretch is five of those matches are at home, including a showdown with No. 7 Oregon in the Civil War rivalry tonight.
The two road matches for the Beavers are at the Arizona schools, which gave Oregon State problems two weeks ago. After beating the Wildcats, the Beavers lost to unranked Arizona State, which dropped them out of the rankings.
"That was kind of a big downfall for us," Ah-Hoy said. "We shouldn't have lost that game, but it happens. It shows the strength of our conference."
Three more wins would double their conference win total of the previous two seasons and guarantee a winning record for the first time since 2001.
With only three seniors, and the bulk of the team dominated by juniors, Ah-Hoy isn't looking ahead, but she says her final season could be the most memorable of her career.
"We're still fairly young, and even though we lose three seniors, we have a good freshman class coming in next year," she said. "Most of them are hitters, too, which is what we need."
That's more people for Ah-Hoy to spread the ball around to, and even more reason to be optimistic about women's volleyball in Corvallis.