Waves roll in to face Wahine


POSTED: Friday, September 18, 2009

They're approaching the fourth week of the season—the first without a three-day tournament—as differently as their rankings.

No. 4 Hawaii (7-2) had a satisfying practice yesterday afternoon about the same time No. 25 Pepperdine (7-3) was heading to the rejuvenating waters off Waikiki. Whether it was the Rainbow Wahine or the Waves who had the better game plan will be determined tonight when the teams meet for the opener of their two-night series.

Hawaii comes into the last of its nonconference matches on a three-match winning streak, punctuated by last Saturday's sweep of then-No. 10 Stanford. The Wahine didn't drop a set in winning the Volleyball Challenge title for the 13th time in 15 years.




#9 :. COUNTDOWN TO 1000

        No. 25 Pepperdine (7-3) at No. 4 Hawaii (7-2)

Tonight and tomorrow, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center


Radio: KKEA 1420-AM


TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)


Tickets: $5 to $17


Series: Hawaii leads 24-3




Pepperdine flew in yesterday following a disappointing home loss to No. 7 UCLA on Wednesday, 24-26, 25-14, 25-15, 25-22. The Waves, whose starting lineup averages about 6-feet-2, were outblocked by the Bruins 11.5-6 and out-aced 10-2.

Getting into the water instead of onto the court was a way to relax some tired legs for Pepperdine. It was also a time to wash away some of the “;I-can't-believe-we-lost-to-Army”; feelings. The Waves dropped a five-setter to the Black Knights last Saturday.

“;It was a match that got away from us,”; said Pepperdine coach Nina Matthies, who picked up her 500th victory on Sept. 11 against Seattle. “;Army probably played their best match of the year, and we were flat and couldn't get some things together.

“;It is what it is. Sometimes there's an implosion. The season is a circle and I hope we're going back around.”;

Beating Hawaii definitely would get Pepperdine back on the upswing. The Waves trail in the series 24-3, with their last trip to the Stan Sheriff Center resulting in two five-set losses to open the 2006 season.

“;Hawaii is better, bigger and stronger than they've been,”; Matthies said. “;If we play like I've seen us play in our matches, we'll match up with them. But it's a lot different when you watch someone on tape. You don't know until you get out against them, see how it's going, then make some adjustments.

“;We want to compete against the best and this is why we're making the trip. I have seven new players for the first time in my 27 years. We're real young and we need to see where we are.”;

Hawaii is not expecting easy matches tonight and tomorrow. Pepperdine has the type of players who have given the Wahine troubles in the past, beginning with a left-handed setter in senior Kiah Fiers and a tall left-handed opposite in 6-5 sophomore Kristen Seaton.

“;They definitely present some problems,”; Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. “;Fiers was very good when we saw her as a freshman and is as good, if not better, now. She's pretty offensive.

“;Their opposite is pretty good. They've got a real dynamic left-side hitter in (sophomore Lilla) Frederick and one of the best liberos in the country (sophomore Stevi Robinson).”;

Frederick, Robinson and Hawaii sophomore Kanani Danielson were on the 2006 U.S. Junior National Team that won the gold medal at the NORCECA Championship.

Pepperdine likely will be the last ranked team Hawaii will see until the NCAA tournament. Motivation shouldn't be a problem.

“;They're ranked, they're big and physical, and we know we'll have to play our game,”; Wahine senior hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru said.


Danielson is featured in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated in the “;Faces in the Crowd”; section for her performance at the season-opening Rainbow Wahine Invitational.

The sophomore outside hitter was named the most outstanding player, averaging 5.4 kills, 1.9 digs and 1.1 blocks per set. Hawaii beat Western Michigan, then-No. 25 Santa Clara and then-No. 9 UCLA to win the title.