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Rainbow Wahine reload with 4 signees


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POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2009

No. 3 Hawaii looks to remain perfect in conference play as it finishes the regular season on the road with three matches.

The Rainbow Wahine hope that yesterday was an omen of how things will play out the next five days.

Hawaii went 4-for-4 in signing high school seniors who were offered scholarships for next season yesterday, the first official day of the fall signing period.

Faxing their letters to UH were California prep products Kaela Goodman, Emily Hartong, Mita Uiato and Michelle Waber. Goodman, Hartong and Uiato attended Sunday's final home match, after which the Wahine honored seniors Stephanie Brandt, Aneli Cubi-Otineru, Cat Fowler, Amber Kaufman and Jayme Lee.

“;I loved it, thought the whole event was awesome,”; Goodman said yesterday.

Goodman, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter from Mission Viejo High, was born on Maui and lived there until she was 6. She said she and her family return every summer and “;a few years ago, I visited (UH) and fell in love with it. I know I'll be very comfortable there.”;

               

     

 

NO. 3 HAWAII (23-2, 13-0) AT BOISE STATE (6-16, 6-7)

        When: 4 p.m. today
       

Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

       

TV: None

       

Series: Hawaii leads, 19-0

       

 

       

Helping with the transition is familiarity with the other three incoming freshmen. Goodman and Uiato have played club together since eighth grade, and she has competed against Hartong and Waber.

Uiato is a 5-foot-8 setter from Long Beach Poly, Hartong a 6-1 middle from Los Alamitos and Waber a 6-3 hitter from Elsinore. Hartong is a former teammate of Wahine redshirt freshman Kristiana Tuaniga at Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball Club, and Waber is a former teammate of Wahine sophomore middle Alexis Forsythe at Elsinore High. Waber, Forsythe and Wahine sophomore Corinne Cascioppo also all played at 951 Elite Volleyball Club.

Waber wore a Hawaii volleyball T-shirt and an orchid lei when she signed her forms yesterday.

“;I am really excited to be signed with such an amazing program,”; she said. “;I am very grateful for this opportunity and I'm ready to work hard.”;

Waber also has an isle tie. Her mother, Suzanne, graduated from Kalani.

Wahine coach Dave Shoji said the class fills the needs created by the departure of this year's seniors, especially Uiato, who will back up Dani Mafua next season. All have the potential to contribute immediately.

“;Mita is a natural-born setter,”; Shoji said. “;She makes the game look easy and she is the setter of our future.”;

Hartong has won a league championship with Los Alamitos, and her club team finished second at last summer's Junior Olympics, where she was selected all-tournament.

“;Emily reminds me a lot of Amber Kaufman,”; Shoji said. “;She hits behind the setter extremely well and is an active blocker.”;

Goodman, who touches 10-2, is a versatile player who has been injured for most of this season.

“;She can play the right or the left and will add to our depth at the outside,”; Shoji said.

Waber made an early oral commitment to Cal State Fullerton but changed her mind and made a recruiting trip to Hawaii in late September. Shoji expects to convert her from middle blocker to outside hitter.

“;She's a natural left-side hitter,”; Shoji said. “;We feel she has great all-around skills and may be able to contribute right away.”;

While yesterday seemed more about the future, Shoji said the immediate focus was on continuing to win. The three-matches-in-five-days trip is difficult because of the travel required; Hawaii goes from Boise State to Idaho, playing the Vandals on Saturday, then to Utah State for Monday's match with the Aggies.

“;It's hard to get to some of these places,”; he said. “;Of the three, Idaho has the best record, but all the teams do things that we need to pay attention to.

“;We need to stay focused, play at a high level and continue to play better in each win. Losing is not even in our mind-set.”;

Hawaii has already clinched the top seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament, Nov. 23-25, in Las Vegas. The Wahine have a bye into the semifinals on Nov. 24 and will play the winner of the Nov. 23 first-round match between the fourth and fifth seeds.

Shoji speculated that it would take seven wins to get into the tournament. If that is the case, then four teams are battling for the final three berths: Nevada (6-7), Boise State (6-7), Fresno State (5-8) and Utah State (5-9). Louisiana Tech is at 4-10, San Jose State at 1-12.

The No. 2 and 3 seeds also remain undecided between New Mexico State (11-3) and Idaho (9-4). The Aggies and Vandals split their matches, with each home team winning, New Mexico State in five and Idaho in four.