Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, March 29, 1999

UH passes on three
who are ‘No. 1’

ICHIBAN is Japanese forNo. 1. It's the perfect name for the champion of the ASICS Rainbow Spring Volleyball Classic in the under-18 Gold Division.

The Ichiban Nike club from Southern California ripped through the competition in the three-day tournament hardly breaking a sweat. Yesterday, they barely needed 30 minutes to demolish Gold Trail of Sacramento, 15-2, 15-3, at Kekuhaupi'o Gym.

Roger Goodwin has done an amazing job at Ichiban, the favorite to again win the gold at this summer's Junior Olympics. Every senior he has on the team has a college scholarship waiting for them this fall... all seven of them.

Three are on their way to Pepperdine, including Paolo Rodrigues, a very impressive setter. The other two are 6-foot-plus middles Jennifer Fopma and Stacy Rowenhorst, best friends who decided to go to the Waves as a package deal.

The two-for-one deal was also offered to Wahine coach Dave Shoji, but he passed on it. Hawaii now has two scholarships remaining and Pepperdine has two newly named high school all-Americans.

But perhaps more puzzling was Shoji's lack of interest in Hedder Ilustre, a 5-6 hitter who was named the MVP of the California high school championships after putting down 32 kills in the title game. Ilustre would have been a perfect fit for Hawaii: the younger sister of current UH hitter Heidi has the same kind of spark of Mahina Eleneki, known as the little Wahine who could at 5-7.

Shoji said he didn't need another defensive specialist. Goodwin thinks that's a big mistake.

"Hedder is so exceptional, so special and I'm surprised Dave didn't go after her," said Goodwin. "She's not your average DS (defensive specialist).

"The girl has no fear. I never remember her having a bad game. It's always Rea-Ta-Mo with her."

Rea-Ta-Mo translates to Ready, Talk, Move -- the three most important things in volleyball, according to the Ichiban head coach. Be ready to play, communicate on the court and get to the ball.

What's most impressive about Ilustre is she's the first four-year player on Ichiban's under-18 team. She's been the elite of the elite since her freshman year.

That speaks volumes when considering the Ichiban alumnae list. Goodwin said this under-18 team is the best since he had Wahine Teee Williams in 1986.

He even rates it better than the one in 1996 that had Heidi Ilustre, Heather Bown, former Wahine Jameka Stevens (now at Cal), and Stanford's Robyn Lewis and Jaimi Gregory. That team won the gold at the '96 Junior Olympics.

Hedder Ilustre was impressive yesterday, with bullet serves and incredible defensive quickness. She's headed to Cal State Northridge in the fall but was wistful when talking about how much she enjoys being in Hawaii.

Maui's Nalani Yamashita changed how Shoji thought of defensive specialists after transfering from Colorado State. Maybe Ilustre will find a way as well.

O ne major upset yesterday occurred when the ASICS under-16 team upset their under-18 rivals. Led by Melissa Wilton, Nanea Holmes and Kelii Wilson -- and loudly cheered on by Holmes' five-year-old brother Aukai -- the 16s rallied for a 1-15, 15-11, 15-7 victory.

"It's all about attitude," said Wilton, the younger sister for former UH players Jenny and Aaron.

The 18s were without two key players, both of whom will wear Wahine uniforms this fall: Lily Kahumoku (in Texas over spring break) and Margaret Vaukasausau (ligament injury).

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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