Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, September 27, 1999

H A W A I I _ V O L L E Y B A L L

bonds rival
volleyball squads

Seven players for Hawaii Pacific
and Brigham Young-Hawaii
call Brazil home

By Ben Henry
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Immediately following the Brigham Young-Hawaii volleyball team's huge win Saturday over top-ranked Hawaii Pacific in Laie, one gets a sense that this was no ordinary match.

Seasider players, giddy with the thrill of victory, are buried with leis and frantically take pictures of each other, acting like tourists in their own gymnasium.

HPU's Debbie Sant' Anna, meanwhile, sits on a bleacher in the back of the Cannon Center, living proof that there is agony in defeat.

Her stare, colder than the ice pack on her shoulder, arbitrarily pierces anyone who may happen to get in its path.

It was the second time the Seasiders had beaten the top-ranked Sea Warriors in two days, as they regained momentum in NCAA Division II volleyball.

Sant' Anna is not accustomed to losing. Since she joined the Sea Warrior squad last season, HPU has gone 42-7 and won a national championship.

But what sticks out in her mind is not the 42 wins, but the seven losses, every single one of them to BYUH.

Add to that HPU's 12-78 all-time record against BYUH, and it's obvious that Sant' Anna and the Sea Warriors have all the reasons in the world to hate the Seasiders.

But when Seasider Vanessa Valansi, who buried the Sea Warriors with 34 kills and 6 aces in the two-match sweep last weekend, came to say hello to Sant' Anna, the feisty Brazilian lit up.

"Vanessa and I are very close friends," she said.

Indeed, when these two teams meet, it's a reunion of sorts. Seven players from the two teams hail from Brazil.

As much as they should hate each other, that all ends on the final whistle.

"On the court we're enemies, but off the court, we're friends," said Valansi.

BYUH's Arlete Silva played with Sant' Anna in Brazil six years ago.

"It's not that we play against each other, and we become enemies - that's just during the game," Silva said. "We don't stop calling each other, having fun together, going to the beach together - we're friends, and that doesn't change."

Former BYUH volleyball player Anik Valiengo came to BYUH in 1991 with her husband Antonio Valiengo, who was recruited by the basketball team. She later convinced her cousin, a good friend of current Seasiders Juliana Lima, Karla Ribeiro and Valansi, to come to BYUH in 1994, establishing their connection to the school.

"I grew up playing with them," said Valansi. "We used to hang out together in Brazil. We're really good friends."

Sant' Anna, who played against Valansi in Brazil, came to HPU when head coach Tita Ahuna offered current Sea Warrior Flavia Gabinio a spot on the team. "We never played together," Sant' Anna said. "We had this little tournament, and we met, and got closer, then we became friends."

Before ending up at HPU, Gabinio had a change of heart, but Sant' Anna came anyway. "She was invited to come here, and she called me and we agreed to come together," Sant' Anna said.

HPU's Gisele Rocha was recruited by former HPU coach Gabriela Artigas, and was among the first of the current batch of Brazilians to come to Hawaii.

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