Wahine to learn NCAA fate today


POSTED: Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's a little like throwing darts at a map of the United States. As history has shown, the NCAA selection committee could send the Hawaii volleyball team anywhere for this week's first round.

Most likely none of the 16 subregional darts will hit within 2,500 miles of Honolulu, instead stabbing at the hearts of the Rainbow Wahine and their faithful fans. Nothing seems to impress the committee:

» Not leading the country in attendance every season since 1994 (6,423 average this year);

» Not having one of the most consistently successful programs (25 wins or more every season since 1994, 10 straight Western Athletic Conference tournament titles);

» Not having one of the sport's coaching icons (Dave Shoji, only the second to win 1,000 matches at the D-I level).





        When: 10 a.m., today

TV: ESPNEWS (Dig. 225)




And, this year, probably not even money. Hawaii has put in an extremely attractive bid to host Thursday and Friday, one that guarantees the NCAA at least a $100,000 profit (based on averaging 6,000 each day).

Considering that most sites will lose money and given the state of the national economy, one would think it would be an easy choice. Think again.

Since 9/11, when the criteria changed for subregional hosting, the Rainbow Wahine have been at home to start the tournament only once. That was 2003, the last time—coincidence or not—they advanced to the final four.

While other top 16 seeds have been sent on the road, only Hawaii has traveled each of the past five years. As has been said in the past, it is easier to send one team out of Honolulu than to send three others in ... and Hawaii has gone out, to Fort Collins, Colo.; Austin, Texas; Long Beach, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; and Los Angeles the last five Decembers.

“;It's really not worth worrying about because it's out of our control,”; Shoji said. “;We don't want our players stressing out about it. But my feeling is hosting should be a reward for having a good season and it would be fair to give us those first two games.

“;Yes, I do believe we have a good chance at hosting. It sounds like not many West Coast teams are able to host because of basketball and maybe that will help us. We beat the Pac-10 champion (Stanford) and the second-place team (UCLA, tied for second). But as I told the team, be ready to leave Monday night.”;

There are a few things hurting Hawaii's chances. With football against Wisconsin on Saturday, matches would have to be Thursday and Friday. That would require very short notice for teams to get here in time for mandated practice Wednesday.

Hawaii's RPI currently is 22, down from a season-high 19. Although the Wahine (28-2) have won their last 24, they haven't played anyone with a higher RPI than theirs since sweeping UCLA (No. 11) on Sept. 12.

Hawaii's nonconference schedule included No. 1 Texas (3-1 loss), No. 6 Stanford (3-0 win) and No. 8 Cal (a 3-2 loss). The WAC matches kill the Wahine; they went 19-0 including this past week's tournament, but the next highest RPI after UH from the WAC is 76 (New Mexico State).

However, Hawaii may not be the only WAC representative when the 64-team field is announced this morning. New Mexico State coach Mike Jordan is holding out hope for an at-large berth after upsetting No. 23 Colorado State (No. 18 RPI) in Fort Collins yesterday, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 26-24.

Of the Aggies' nine losses, three have been to Hawaii. The others have been on the road at Florida State (3), Illinois (4), Wisconsin (66) and Idaho (173), and at home to New Mexico (41).

“;We don't have a bad loss,”; Jordan said. “;At Idaho, we had Krista (Altermatt) out and they're supposed to consider injuries. Our nonconference RPI is good. The question will be if they want the second-best team in the WAC.”;

The 16 subregionals feed into four predetermined regional sites that will be hosted by Stanford, Minnesota, Nebraska (at the Qwest Center in Omaha) and Florida. Regardless of where his team plays this week, Shoji is hoping to not be in the Stanford regional.

“;There is no weak team on the West Coast,”; he said.