Hawaii's multitasker


POSTED: Thursday, October 22, 2009

She's done everything that's been asked of her ... and more.

Sacrifice her body in an all-out effort to get to a volleyball most would have left for dead? Not a problem, with a dig that earned a standing ovation last Saturday against New Mexico State.

Step back into the starting setter's role after the teammate who beat her out for the spot got sick? She set Hawaii to the 2008 conference tournament title and earned all-tourney honors.

And play front row for one rotation to save a substitution? Show her the block and let her bang away, as she did in Monday's win over Louisiana Tech.

Whether Stephanie Brandt has been starting or the star sub, the senior for No. 3 Hawaii has done it willingly and with no complaints. The 5-foot-9 Brandt just wants to be on the court and help however she can.

“;I just love to play,”; Brandt said. “;My legacy? Hopefully, people will remember me being an all-around player and that my teammates enjoyed playing with me, that I wasn't the type of player they're happy when you're gone.

“;I'm just happy to play and have fun. And this year has been a lot of fun.”;





        Brigham Young-Hawaii at No. 3 Hawaii

7 p.m. tomorrow

        Where: Sheriff Center

        Radio/TV: KKEA 1420-AM, KFVE Ch. 5

        Note: UH alumnae match starts at 5 p.m.

The Wahine (17-2, 8-0 Western Athletic Conference) take a 13-match win streak into tomorrow's nonconference match with Division II Brigham Young-Hawaii (13-10, 9-4 PacWest). UH coach Dave Shoji expects to use most of his roster, giving playing time to those who haven't had much this season.

Expect to see Brandt in there against the Seasiders, both as a defensive/serving specialist and setter.

“;Brandt, statistically, is our best server,”; Shoji said. “;Having her back there is a tremendous boost. She can play defense, take the off-play when Dani (setter Mafua) passes the first ball, set a hittable ball, run the offense ... she's accepted a very important role for us.

; “;She is such a spark and makes too many plays not to have her in there. She's made some outstanding plays to keep the ball off the floor. That one all-out stretch, one-arm dig gave the team such a lift.”;

The improbable dig Shoji referred to came against New Mexico State on Saturday during Set 2. Brandt ran down the ball near the press table, swinging her arm while in mid-air to put the ball back in play, and it eventually resulted in a Hawaii point.

“;I didn't realize what the big deal was until I saw the game later,”; she said. “;I was just trying to get the (ball) back up so we could play it.

“;We've had so many outrageous plays this year, so many outstretched bodies on defense, making great plays. I just enjoy being on this team.”;

Brandt wasn't recruited by Hawaii out of University High in Irvine, Calif. As a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, she led the Big West in assists and aces, her first season as a full-time setter.

Fate led to Brandt's decision to transfer about the time Hawaii was looking for a second setter. In 2007, she set UH to the WAC title.

“;She came on a visit and it's a blessing that she stayed to play,”; Shoji said. “;She's just a nice, solid kid, very reliable, a good student. Just a coach's dream.”;

It's been the same for Brandt her senior year. She's on track to graduate in spring with a degree in sociology and her team is on track for a final four appearance, the first since 2003.

“;What I like is this team is all business,”; she said. “;We know what we have to do and we do it. There's this mentality to not dwell on the last play, but to move on to the next play.

“;It's been an awesome experience and I've grown so much as a person. I wouldn't change it.”;