More tough challenges await No. 4 Wahine


POSTED: Thursday, September 03, 2009

She wasn't your average tour guide yesterday.

Jen Carey did make sure to point out Punahou School to the Cal volleyball players in her van—“;That's where President Obama went”;—and gave them some lessons in Hawaiian words and street names.

But the new director of volleyball operations for the Golden Bears was most excited about showing off the Stan Sheriff Center. It was Carey's home—and home court—for four seasons, as she shared setting duties with Margaret Vakasausau from 1999-2003.

“;The most important thing to me is that the Bears will get to see and play in the greatest volleyball environment in the country,”; Carey said yesterday. “;It's going to open their eyes, getting a chance to play in front of fans who love volleyball.

“;The memories of playing here are fresh in my mind. I still have a lot of friends here and it has a very special place in my heart. My girls asked why did I ever leave.”;

Since graduating in 2003, Carey worked briefly for KHNL/KFVE, played professionally in Germany, was director of volleyball operations at Texas A&M (2005-06) and an assistant coach at Georgia Tech (2007).

She was hired by Cal in February.

“;I think I'm a pretty good recruiter, and I've been able to recruit good players and staff,”; Cal coach Rich Feller said. “;Jen's been great, fits in very well. It's like having another coach in the office.”;

Coincidentally, Carey's first match as a Wahine was on the road against Cal in Feller's coaching debut with the Golden Bears. Carey had 13 assists, 12 digs and three kills in the 15-8, 15-7, 15-5 victory. She is fifth in assists on UH's career list.

No. 4 Hawaii and No. 10 Cal don't meet in the Hawaiian Airlines Classic until Sunday's 5 p.m. finale. No. 2 Texas and No. 19 Saint Louis round out the field Feller called as good as, if not better than, an NCAA regional.

“;It's going to be very interesting for me Sunday,”; said Carey, who was 123-12 in her Wahine career. “;It's the first time I've watched (the Wahine) live since 2003. It's special to be back in the arena ... period. And it's going to be special to be down on the court with Dave (UH coach Shoji).

“;I work for Cal, I want them to be a success. And I wish the 'Bows well.”;

Regardless of the outcome, Carey agreed that she couldn't lose.

A look at the teams, according to ranking:

No. 2 Texas (2-0)

The Longhorns are on the road for the second week and will not have played an unranked team in their first five matches.

Texas opened at the Long Beach State Baden Classic, rallying to beat the host and 23rd-ranked 49ers 3-2—after falling behind 0-2—and then sweeping No. 15 San Diego.

Leading the Longhorns is senior All-American hitter Destinee Hooker, named the Big 12 Player of the Week after her 43-kill, .347-hitting performance last weekend. The four-time NCAA high jump champion had 23 kills against The Beach and 20 against the Toreros.

Senior libero Heather Kisner had a career-high 29 digs against the 49ers and senior setter/opposite Ashley Engle was one kill shy of a triple-double (41 assists, 16 digs, nine kills).

Texas has a 9-0 advantage in the series with Cal and trails against Hawaii 10-1. The lone Longhorn victory came in the 1988 NCAA championship. Saturday will be the first meeting with Saint Louis.

Coaching Texas is former UH volleyball player Jerritt Elliott, in his 10th year (185-62). First-year assistant Salima Davidson was the MVP of the 1993 Hawaiian Airlines Classic as the Penn State setter. Sophomore Sydney Yogi (Punahou '08) is a reserve libero.

No. 4 Hawaii (3-0)

The Rainbow Wahine, off to their best start since 2004, won their Chevron Invitational with sweeps of Western Michigan and UCLA sandwiching a 3-1 victory over Santa Clara. It was Hawaii's first win over the Bruins since 2005 and the first sweep since 2000.

Sophomore hitter Kanani Danielson was named Western Athletic Conference player of the week following her performance (56 kills, 19 digs, 11 blocks) that earned her tournament MOP honors. Sophomore hitter Stephanie Ferrell had career highs of 14 kills and eight digs against UCLA.

Leading Hawaii's tough serving was senior hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru, who had 12 aces in the three wins. Senior middle Amber Kaufman had a career night against Santa Clara, with 13 kills and .765 hitting.

The Wahine have won this event nine times, the last in 2004.

Hawaii leads Cal 8-0 and Texas 10-1. Tonight is the first meeting with Saint Louis.

Dave Shoji is in his 35th season (987-173-1).

No. 10 Cal (2-1)

The Golden Bears, picked to finish second in the Pac-10, finished second at last week's Marriott Invitational hosted by Nevada. Cal was upset by UC Irvine 3-2 then came back to beat St. Mary's 3-1 and UConn 3-0.

Named to the all-tournament team were senior hitter Hana Cutura (4.67 kps, .307) and junior setter Carli Lloyd, who led the team in assists (136), digs (26) and blocks (13).

Cal's starting lineup averages well over 6 feet, anchored by Cutura (6-4), junior hitter Tarah Murrey (6-3) and senior middle Mindi Wiley (6-3).

The Golden Bears went 1-1 in their last appearance at the Stan Sheriff Center, finishing second in the 2004 Rainbow Wahine Invitational.

Feller is in his 10th season (191-115).

No. 19 Saint Louis (2-1)

The Billikens finished second at their Active Ankle Challenge last week, with wins over Alabama and Miami of Ohio. They were swept by defending NCAA champion and top-ranked Penn State.

Junior hitter Megan Boken (3.0 kps) and senior All-American hitter Sammi McCloud (2.80 kps, six aces) lead Saint Louis. Sophomore middle Lydia Blaha is a transfer from Boise State. Senior libero Whitney Behrens needs 105 digs to become the program's career leader.

This is the highest ranking for Saint Louis, the Atlantic 10 regular-season champion. Not only is this the Billikens' first trip to Hawaii, it will be their first meeting against every team in the field.

Coach Anne Kordes is in her fifth season (103-54).