Helping set the table


POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2009

Come November, it's time to talk turkey, travel and tournaments.

For most, T Day means Thanksgiving Day; for senior Stephanie Brandt, it means Title Day, as in winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament title yet again.

Brandt has set the Wahine to the championship the past two seasons, in 2007 as a sophomore starter and, last year, coming in for the injured Dani Mafua. Both times, the UC Santa Barbara transfer was named to the all-tournament team.

“;The thinking is always to win it,”; Brandt said of the tournament championship. “;We can't be the team that doesn't do it. It's all about pride.”;

November also includes senior night for five Wahine and “;it's so special here,”; she said. “;You think about everything that's happened in your career, the fans, your teammates.

“;It's going to be very strange when I'm done. I've been playing volleyball for 10 years.”;

The goal is to extend her final college season as long as she can. That includes getting to the final four, one step farther than last year's team advanced.






”;Defending our WAC (tournament) title is really important for the seniors. We don't want us to be remembered as the seniors who didn't win it.”;


Stephanie Brandt
        Senior setter/ defensive specialist




“;A lot of it is luck of the draw,”; Brandt said of the tournament pairings. “;It's also about holding ourselves accountable, not the could've, would've, should've.

“;It's about setting our goals and attaining them.”;

One goal is to be on the team that gives coach Dave Shoji his 1,000th victory.

“;It will be so special when it happens,”; Brandt said. “;It will be so cool to be part of that.”;

Whether she is setting or coming in as a serving specialist, Brandt has the respect of her teammates.

“;She is one of my favorite people, a good friend on and off the court,”; senior middle Amber Kaufman said. “;She always has a great attitude and is one of the best all-around players we have. I wish there was a spot for her on the court.”;

The Wahine are expected to again carve up the WAC, slicing off their 10th conference tournament title Thanksgiving Week and then waiting for the NCAA selection show Nov. 29 to dictate travel plans.

“;The most important part of the year will be coming up,”; Brandt said. “;It's all about refocusing, getting to where we want to be.”;