Hawaii makes case to national audience


POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009

There is more at stake than a 14-match winning streak or keeping alive the most lopsided series run in the program's history.

For Hawaii, today's Western Athletic Conference volleyball match at Fresno State is about national respect for those watching on ESPNU. The Rainbow Wahine (18-2, 8-0 WAC) are No. 3 in the coaches poll, “;but I'm sure a lot of people question if we're the third-best team in the country,”; Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. “;People will be watching who are wondering about us.

“;I think it's hard to prove it at this point, but I think we are. And this will give people watching the chance to see what we're all about. We're happy to be getting this national exposure.”;

Today is the second time in eight days Fresno State will be on ESPNU. The Bulldogs (11-10, 4-5) were swept at New Mexico State last Thursday in a nationally televised contest.

“;I think it's going to enhance our home atmosphere,”; third-year Fresno State coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “;We're hoping for a great turnout. Our goal is to fill the lower bowl (2,500) but if we sell out (3,333) that would be great.”;






When: 5:30 p.m. today


Radio: KKEA 1420-AM


TV: ESPNU, Ch. 219


Series: Hawaii leads 44-0


The 15,596-seat Save Mart Center is partitioned off for volleyball matches with a volleyball-specific court on one end of the arena.

Netherby-Sewell isn't questioning how good Hawaii is. Although the Bulldogs are the last WAC team to face the Wahine, “;we've seen film and they are impressive,”; she said. “;We're not focusing too much on their personnel, that can be a bit overwhelming. They have so many dominant players.

“;We're realistic in knowing we're a program trying to get better and they're even better than they have been. To beat them we'll have to play our very best and them play their worst.”;

That rarely has happened in a series that began in 1983 and has continued much the same as the result of that first encounter: 15-2, 15-0, 15-0. Hawaii has won all 44 matches between the two, with Fresno State taking just four sets off the Wahine in the past 14 meetings.

The Bulldogs are led by sophomore hitters Baylee Platt (2.41 kills per set) and Brianna Clarke (2.0 kps, 1.33 blocks per set). Clarke turned an ankle in yesterday's practice but Netherby-Sewell expects her to play.

“;We don't know much about them,”; Wahine junior setter Dani Mafua said. “;We just want to play our game and be consistent.”;

The Wahine got into Fresno yesterday morning and practiced at the Save Mart Center yesterday evening.

Today is the first of three road matches in five days; Hawaii is at Nevada on Saturday and San Jose State on Monday before returning home for its final two regular-season matches.

“;I think all three teams give you some sort of problem,”; Shoji said. “;If they're on, we'll have to be on.

“;Our goals are to win three matches and play at a high level in doing it. Fresno's been up and down, and we'll prepare for them as if they'll be up against us.”;