Wahine leave no doubt


POSTED: Sunday, December 13, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. » A message to the NCAA volleyball selection committee: Throw out the RPI and start listening to the people who know the sport and watch the matches.

The coaches have given Hawaii the respect all season, ranking the Rainbow Wahine No. 3 since Oct. 12. And on a night when the date matched their seeding—12-12 for No. 12—Hawaii swept away any doubt that it was the ranking, not the seeding, it deserved.

Led by regional most outstanding player Kanani Danielson's 11 kills and given a lift by the return of senior middle Amber Kaufman, the Wahine took down Michigan 25-23, 25-19, 25-18 in 95 minutes in front of a pro-Hawaii crowd of 2,926 at Maples Pavilion. Add 10 kills from sophomore hitter Stephanie Ferrell and an all-heart performance by senior hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Hawaii advanced to its first final four since 2003.





        Final Four

        At Tampa, Fla.

        » Penn State (36-0) vs. Hawaii (32-2), 2 or 4 p.m.
        » Texas (28-1) vs. Minnesota (28-8), 2 or 4 p.m.


        » Thursday's winners, 3 p.m.
        » TV: ESPNU
        » Radio: Hawaii matches, ESPN, 1420-AM
        » Series: Penn State leads Hawaii 4-0




The Wahine (32-2) will face two-time defending national champion Penn State (36-0) in a national semifinal Thursday in Tampa, Fla. The other semifinal pits second-seeded Texas (28-1) against 11th-seeded Minnesota (28-8).

But that is days away. Last night was about reaffirming the belief that they belonged with the rest of the final-four teams.

“;It's a great win for the program,”; said junior setter Dani Mafua, one of four Hawaii players named to the all-region team. “;This puts us back on the map. A lot of people had their doubts about us.

“;All season we've stuck together, had each other's back. And it's just the start.”;

The victory began and ended with Hawaii's serve-and-pass game. The Wahine held the Wolverines (27-10) to a .181 hitting percentage while serving up five aces, two by Mafua.

“;Hawaii served and passed as well as anyone we've seen,”; Michigan coach Mark Rosen said after his team was swept for just the third time this season. “;They had us on our heels all night. We try to put pressure on the other team and we never felt like we put pressure on them.

“;They had all the answers all night.”;

If there was a question, it was whether Kaufman—who sat out most of Friday's win over Illinois with a strained abdominal—would play.

“;It was a game-time decision,”; Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. “;I told Amber I wasn't going to make the call, it was up to her.

“;She didn't practice pregame today. I was a little nervous because she wasn't doing much in warm-ups. She assured me she could go and I wrote down '2' on the (lineup) card.”;

Kaufman said she was in pain but wanted to be part of the biggest match of her career.

“;I had a nice tape job and just gritted it out,”; said Kaufman, who finished with eight kills with one error on 11 swings. “;It would have had to been a hernia to keep me out.”;

“;I was very happy to see she was ready to go,”; Danielson said. “;She's been working so hard and it was a lift just having her presence on the court.”;

Asked when he felt the match was won, Shoji said at 23-16 after an ace by Mafua.

“;Then thoughts of us being up 23-19 at SC last week flashed through my mind,”; he said of the set Hawaii eventually won 27-25. “;I felt pretty good when we got to 24.

“;I don't know how many people believed in our team. Our players believed, the coaching staff believed.”;

But just to make sure he wasn't dreaming, Shoji will have a souvenir this morning. He walked out with his name card from the press conference.

Joining Danielson and Mafua on the all-region team were Cubi-Otineru and Ferrell; Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman and Alex Hunt; and Stanford's Alix Klineman.

In the other regional finals last night:

Penn State swept Cal, the last remaining Pac-10 team and the last team to beat Hawaii, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22. It was the 100th consecutive win for the two-time defending national champions and it gave coach Russ Rose his 999th career win in Division I.

Also, Minnesota eliminated third-seeded Florida State 25-20, 25-7, 18-25, 25-17. And Texas defeated Big 12 rival Nebraska 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-17.


NO. 3 HAWAII DEF. NO. 16 MICHIGAN 25-23, 25-19, 25-18























































































































































 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—Michigan: None. Hawaii (5): Mafua 2, Kaufman, Cubi-Otineru, Lee. Service Errors—Michigan (6): Hunt 2, Zimmerman 2, Paz, Donhoff. Hawaii (4): Mafua, Cubi-Otineru, Ka'aihue, Brandt. Assists—Michigan (34): Zimmerman 32, Hunt, Donhoff. Hawaii (39): Mafua 35, Kaufman 2, Danielson, Cubi-Otineru. T—1:35. Officials—Mary Blalock, Kevin Cull. A—2,926.