Hard-luck Wolf Pack worn thin


POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009

Devin Scruggs has lived in Reno, Nev., long enough to know that winning involves a lot of luck.

Her Nevada volleyball team has had plenty of it recently — all of it bad — starting with various strains of flu that have sidelined several of her players. While one has recovered and is cleared to play, two others did not make yesterday's trip to Honolulu.

“;It will be a little different lineup we'll have out there,”; said Scruggs, whose Wolf Pack meets No. 4 Hawaii tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center. “;But all my Hawaii kids are making the trip home. They are all fantastic kids and they may all be starting.”;

Making the trip back to the islands are junior hitter Kylie Harrington (Saint Francis '07), sophomore setter Tatiana Santiago (Kamehameha '08), freshman hitter Elissa Ji (Maryknoll '09) and freshman defensive specialist Kelly Chang (Hawaii Baptist '09).

While the flu has done its fair share of damage to the 14-player Nevada roster, the travel schedule has also taken its toll. The Pack's stretch of three consecutive Western Athletic Conference road matches started off with a sweep at New Mexico State followed by a stunning sweep at Louisiana Tech.

Ask Scruggs about the swing back across six time zones to face WAC leader Hawaii and “;Good grief,”; she said. “;Initially we thought it was a good thing, getting the toughest road matches out of the way like that but ...

; “;Last week was really tough. You can only travel with 12 and when one of our players got sick at New Mexico State, we had to send her home and it was too expensive to fly another player (to Louisiana Tech). Having only 11 players doesn't work.”;

Win or lose tonight, Nevada doesn't have much time to think about it or prepare for its next match. The Pack hosts Utah State Saturday and “;they'll get into Reno before we do,”; Scruggs said. “;They'll also get in a practice, something we won't be able to do. And that's a match we think we can win.

“;It's not that we're overlooking Hawaii, (we) will put in our best effort, but Hawaii is phenomenal, just going through every team in the conference.”;

The Rainbow Wahine struggled at New Mexico State Saturday before pulling out a 3-1 victory. They take a nine-match winning streak into tonight's contest, having also won their last 31 meetings with Nevada dating back to 1992.

Hawaii's two opponents this week are a combined 5-24 overall, 1-5 in the WAC.

“;There's always something to pay attention to on the other side of the net,”; UH coach Dave Shoji said. “;But the main focus will be on our side of the net.

“;This is one of the weeks we have to go hard in the practice gym and continue to get better.”;

“;I don't think we're worried about where they are in their season, we're worried about where we are in our game,”; added Wahine junior setter Dani Mafua. “;We look at every match as an opportunity to get better.”;