UH makes it 10 straight


POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009

LAS VEGAS » They tried to make it last as long as possible, to hold on to the feeling that this was a special night for a special team. The 87 minutes it took to sweep past New Mexico State 25-12, 25-17, 25-23 last night just wasn't enough.

An hour after No. 3 Hawaii captured its 10th consecutive Western Athletic Conference tournament volleyball title, the Rainbow Wahine lingered on The Orleans Arena court. They took dozens of pictures with family, friends and fans, signed even more autographs, hung around until the ushers shooed them out the door ... trophies, leis and all.

As they had proved the entire WAC season, the Wahine (28-2) showed they were clearly better than the rest of the conference. When the Aggies (19-9) pushed hard in Set 3, leading by as much as 18-13, the Wahine pushed back with authority.

“;We've had great senior leadership all season and I think it was the difference at the end,”; Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said after his team won its 24th straight match. “;We stayed composed ... well, the players did. The coaches were getting a little edgy.

“;We took a deep breath, earned a real point on every serve and kept creeping back. Our players really stayed composed.”;

Hawaii played catch-up for all of Set 3, chipping away at NMSU's lead until Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Amber Kaufman stuffed Kayleigh Giddens to tie it at 21.

After trading points, Stephanie Ferrell powered through the Aggies block to give the Wahine their first lead at 23-22. A hitting error by Whitney Woods gave Hawaii match point and, one sideout later, Cubi-Otineru put down her ninth kill, giving Hawaii the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

“;I think we stayed composed at the end,”; said Cubi-Otineru, named to the all-tournament team along with Dani Mafua and MVP Kanani Danielson. “;We were focused and disciplined tonight, drifted away a little (in Set 3) and got back on it. We wanted it more.”;

“;It was a good match for us, to get us ready for wherever we get sent,”; said Danielson, who had a match-high 14 kills to go with team highs of eight digs and three blocks. “;Now it's time to start thinking about the next goal: the NCAA tournament.”;

Hawaii, which returns home today, will learn its postseason fate Sunday. The Wahine likely will be the only WAC team to earn a berth.

“;I'd have to say this is the best Hawaii team since 2005, when we joined the conference,”; New Mexico State coach Mike Jordan said. “;We did pass a little better in Game 2, but we couldn't stop them. Even when Kanani fell down (passing) on a short serve, it was still a perfect pass.

“;It was a good match. I hoped that the whole match would look like Game 3 did. We had a chance to win it. Our serve-receive failed and theirs didn't.”;

Hawaii had eight aces, four by libero Elizabeth Ka'aihue.

The Wahine got outblocked 7-5 and outdug 31-26, with the Aggies earning the statistical edge in Set 3.

“;I think there was a tightness on our side when they made their comeback,”; Jordan said. “;What Hawaii did to us is what we normally do to other teams. You believe you're better and you know you can come back.”;

Krista Altermatt led the Aggies with 10 kills, five in the last set. She and teammates Jennah DeVries and Woods, along with Boise State's Breann Nesselhuf were also named to the all-tournament team.

It was the fourth time the two teams met for the championship and the first that it went only three. Hawaii also hadn't swept New Mexico State since the first meeting of the 2008 season.

The 12 points scored by the Aggies were their fewest since they scored 11 in a four-set loss to the Rainbow Wahine in Las Cruces, N.M., on Oct. 2.

Cubi-Otineru is now 24 kills away from becoming the 16th Wahine to reach the 1,000-kill mark.

Hawaii's streak of 10 straight WAC tournament championships started in 1998. The conference did not hold tournaments in 1999 and 2000. BYU beat Hawaii in the 1997 final.


Tourney at Las Vegas again?

Hana hou? The WAC tournament returned to Las Vegas this week for the first time since its three-year run from 1996 to 1998. WAC commissioner Karl Benson said that it was a one-year experiment and a decision on whether to renew the agreement with The Orleans Arena will be made later.

Benson said the WAC invested $75,000 to hold this year's event and needed to sell at least 2,000 tickets to break even. Last night's attendance came close (1,990).

Last year's tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center broke the record for average attendance (1,728) but that was for eight matches. This week's tournament was cut to six teams and five matches.


NO. 3 HAWAII DEF. NEW MEXICO STATE 25-12, 25-17, 25-23























































































































































AGGIES (19-8)
 skeatt pctdbsbapts



 skeatt pctdbsbapts

Key —s: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills plus blocks plus aces)
Aces—New Mexico St. (0).Hawaii (8): Kaaihue 4, Mafua 2, Brandt, Cubi-Otineru. Service Errors—New Mexico St. (6): Devries 2, Giddens 2, Altermatt, Wolfe. Hawaii (4): Cubi-Otineru 3, Brandt. Assists—New Mexico St. (35): Devries 28, Wolfe 3, Phillips 2, Altermatt, Brown. Hawaii (37): Mafua 34, Brandt, Danielson, Kaaihue.
T—1:27. Officials—Eric Asami, Kit Kitade. A—1,990.