Powerhouse UH worries NMSU


POSTED: Saturday, October 03, 2009

Neither coach got a lot of sleep Thursday night. But their reasons were as diametrically opposed as their respective volleyball team's rankings: Hawaii at No. 4 and New Mexico State not even on the radar.

Dave Shoji and the Rainbow Wahine had an early wake-up call yesterday to begin traveling from Ruston, La., to Las Cruces, N.M., site of today's match with the Aggies.

Keeping NMSU coach Mike Jordan awake were images from scouting tapes he had seen of Hawaii matches. It was the stuff of which nightmares are made.

“;I'm not going to lie,”; Jordan said in a telephone call yesterday. “;I lost some sleep thinking about playing them.

“;Hawaii is impressive. It's them and everybody else in our conference. There's a reason they're No. 4. They don't have any discernible weaknesses. They were an elite eight team last year and they're even better this year.”;




#4 .:. COUNTDOWN TO 1,000

        Who: No. 4 Hawaii (12-2, 3-0 WAC) at New Mexico State (8-4, 3-0)

When: Today, 3 p.m.


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM


TV: None


Series: Hawaii leads 25-2




Still, the Aggies swept that elite eight team at the Stan Sheriff Center a year ago, resulting in the two sharing the regular-season Western Athletic Conference championship. The Wahine more than avenged that loss in the rubber match with a 3-1 win in the WAC tournament championship, earning the automatic NCAA berth.

Both teams lost dynamic seniors from 2008 in Jamie Houston for Hawaii and Krystal Torres for NMSU. The difference this season is the Wahine overall are better while the Aggies claim “;we're improving, but we're young in some spots,”; Jordan said. “;We've played our 'A' game but not enough.”;

Jordan hopes that a big crowd will counterbalance the perceived imbalance. The “;Pack the Pan Am”; promotion is aimed at breaking the program's single-match attendance mark of 7,115 set Oct. 1, 2005. That day, the Wahine defeated the Aggies in five. It was NMSU's first season as a WAC member.

“;Having Hawaii here is great for our program,”; Jordan said. “;Hawaii creates an interest in volleyball that no other team can create, not even Texas when we've had them here.

“;Our high school and club coaches and players are always excited when Hawaii comes in. They not only create more interest in volleyball, they create new fans.”;

New Mexico State (8-4, 3-0 WAC) is coming off Thursday's sweep of Nevada. In the Aggies' fourth straight win, senior hitter Krista Altermatt (10 kills, 12 digs) and sophomore setter Jennah DeVries (39 assists, 10 digs) had double-doubles.

Hawaii (12-2, 3-0) swept Louisiana Tech on Thursday in 78 minutes, the team's first road match of the season and its eighth straight sweep.

The Wahine's only glitch of the trip so far was getting to Las Cruces. Their flight out of Monroe, La., was delayed, making them miss their connection from Dallas to El Paso, Texas.

Hawaii's light practice at the Pan Am was held more than 3 hours later than originally scheduled.

“;We had a good practice and we're ready to go,”; Shoji said.