Tough Aggies stand in Shoji's way


POSTED: Saturday, October 17, 2009

In the grand scheme of things, it's just another match.

The game plan is the same as it has been for 1,175 others, for 34 1/2 seasons. Play better than the opponent and everything else should take care of itself.

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji isn't treating tonight's match with New Mexico State much differently than when he prepared the Rainbow Wahine for the Oct. 3 contest against the Aggies in Las Cruces. It's still a battle for the top spot in the Western Athletic Conference as well as the chance to extend a winning streak—it was eight two weeks ago, 11 coming into tonight.

More importantly, as Shoji has told his team this week, it's a chance to keep getting better. The best way for the Wahine to please their coach is to do just that ... not to mention making Shoji only the second at the Division I women's level to reach 1,000 victories.

“;He's so humble, he doesn't want to make the night about him,”; senior defensive specialist Jayme Lee said. “;He wants our focus to be on winning the match, getting better as a team, and then the celebration will come later.

“;But this is a really big deal. People wanted to come Wednesday, even if it was going to be against Louisiana Tech. I don't think there's extra pressure. We know what we have to do.”;




#1 .:. COUNTDOWN TO 1,000

        Hawaii coach Dave Shoji goes for his 1,000th career win today:

New Mexico State (11-6, 6-1 WAC) at No. 3 Hawaii (15-2, 6-0 WAC)


When: 7 tonight, Stan Sheriff Center


TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)


Radio: KKEA (1420-AM)


Series: Hawaii leads 26-2




It also includes not having a repeat of last season, when the Aggies upset the Wahine in three 16 days after Hawaii had done the same to host New Mexico State.

“;It's a different season, a different team, a different mentality,”; Lee said. “;There are a lot of returnees from last year who realize that no way are we letting them beat us at home again.

“;It was a good loss for us, though. Everyone needs to lose to realize where you should be. It was a good lesson learned.”;

Last year's loss did cost Hawaii the top seed in the WAC tournament. The Wahine also had to share the regular-season conference crown for the first time since 1998.

Hawaii more than avenged the defeat when downing New Mexico State for the WAC tournament title.

The Aggies arrived yesterday, feeling a lot better than when they first left Las Cruces, N.M., on Wednesday. New Mexico State hit .074 when being swept by in-state rival New Mexico on Tuesday, 25-18, 25-21, 25-23. On Thursday, the Aggies hit .205 in turning back host San Jose State, 25-11, 25-16, 19-25, 25-23.

Two weeks ago, NMSU hit .131 to Hawaii's .272.

“;The one thing we have got to correct is being error-prone in our attack,”; Aggies coach Mike Jordan said. “;We were able to win at Hawaii last year, but ... it's going to take a heck of an effort to do it again.”;

As for maybe being the coach that Shoji beats for his 1,000th?

“;Dave is an icon in our sport,”; Jordan said. “;I remember when I first got into coaching I couldn't wait to meet him. “;It's an impressive feat. It should be celebrated.”;