Going back to Cali


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008

Good seed. Easy travel. Tough draw.






        First round, Friday, No. 7 seed Hawaii (28-3) vs. Belmont, 3 p.m. Hawaii time


  San Diego (23-4) at USC (16-11), 5 p.m.



Hawaii got two of the three things it had hoped for when the NCAA Division I women's volleyball tournament pairings were announced yesterday. The Rainbow Wahine (28-3) are seeded seventh in the 64-team field and are headed to Los Angeles for the sub-regional hosted by USC.

Up first for Hawaii on Friday is Belmont (25-7), the Atlantic Sun Conference champion. It will be the first meeting between the Wahine and the Bruins.

“;We don't know much about them,”; Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. “;We do know that our second round is potentially very tough.”;

Should Hawaii advance past Belmont, the Wahine would face the winner of USC (16-11) and San Diego (23-4) on Saturday. The Women of Troy finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10, while the Toreros won the West Coast Conference.

Saturday's winner advances to the regional hosted by Colorado State.

The pairings made a number of the Wahine players very happy. Freshman hitter Stephanie Ferrell's home is about 10 minutes from the USC campus; the families of seniors Tara Hittle and Jessica Keefe live in Colorado.

“;I'm really excited,”; Ferrell said. “;I've played in the Galen with my club. It's huge. It's a very nice arena.”;

“;We're just taking it one day at a time, one game at a time,”; Hittle said, “;but it would be awesome to go home to play again.”;

In 2004, Hittle's freshman year, top-ranked Hawaii went to Colorado State for the sub-regional, beating both Colorado and Purdue before losing in the regional semifinal to Wisconsin.

The highest seed in the CSU regional is No. 2 Stanford. Barring an upset, the Wahine would face the Cardinal in the regional final with a final-four berth on the line.

“;At this point, we're just worried about our first round,”; Shoji said. “;We'll be focused. Our players are mature enough to understand what happened to us last year.”;

The Wahine were knocked out in the second round by Middle Tennessee State. The potential is there for Hawaii to see MTSU in the regional semifinal next week.

Belmont was also happy with its draw, according to the school's news release.

“;The girls are thrilled to be going out west and flying somewhere,”; Bruins coach Deane Webb said. “;We certainly look forward to playing a great team in Hawaii, one of the most storied programs and one of the most respected coaches in the game today in Dave Shoji.”;