Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, November 18, 1999

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

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii sophomore blocker Veronica Lima brings
experience and knowledge to the court.

Lima has been
mature influence
on young Wahine

The 22-year-old sophomore
from Brazil hopes to take the Hawaii
volleyball team to the big dance

Wahine Playbook

By Cindy Luis


Mambo No. 5.

"A little bit of Monica,'' is the way Lou Bega sings it.

"A little bit of Veronica,'' is the version used by the No. 3 Hawaii women's volleyball team during warmups at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The popular song is part of the Wahine's pregame ritual. And mambo-ing right along to the music is sophomore blocker Vero-nica Lima, a key ingredient in Hawaii's national title hopes.

"I like to dance before the game,'' said Lima, a native of Brazil. "It helps me get excited about playing."

Mambo No. 5 has special significance for Hawaii, as it attempts to win the WAC title outright against Rice tonight at the Sheriff Center. The Wahine (23-1) are hoping they'll be dancing on Dec. 18 after winning national championship No. 5.

Despite being homesick and having major back problems, the 6-foot-2 Lima returned for her second year in hopes of doing just that. She lost 15 pounds during the off-season, which helped take some pressure off her two herniated discs.

Coach Dave Shoji had anticipated a need to rest Lima more because of her back problems. But it was a stomach virus that kept Lima out of the starting lineup for several matches, including the loss to Stanford.

"I hate the bench,'' said Lima, who was dehydrated and on an IV minutes before gametime. "I've played sick before but I couldn't do it. At least I tried (playing sparingly in Games 2 and 3)."

"Without her out there, it was unnerving,'' said Wahine freshman setter Jennifer Carey. "We had never really practiced without Veronica. She is such a calming influence. Nothing fazes her. As one of the oldest (22) players, she has a lot of experience and brings a lot of knowledge to the court."

Lima's contribution to the pregame warmup music is Marc Anthony's "I Need to Know.'' It could have been her theme song when looking for an American university that offered architecture as well as top-notch volleyball.

She checked out the Top 25 poll, narrowing her choices to warm-weather schools. Lima's search turned up Florida, several schools in California and Hawaii.

The encouragement to come to UH was bilingual. Wahine assistant coach Charlie Wade asked for a tape, her friend Juliana Lima (no relation), Brigham Young-Hawaii's setter who is also from Brazil, told her she'd love the islands.

"I made the right choice to come here,'' Veronica Lima said. "If I had chosen USC, I'd be back home in Brazil by now.

"Playing here is so great. My mom visited last year and she loved it. Everyone asks when she's coming back. That's part of how volleyball is different here. The fans come to love you as a person.

"I love the crowd, I love the arena. I went to BYUH to watch them play. This little boy came up with this look in his eyes. He said I was his favorite player. It makes you feel good that you can be a role model and influence people in a good way."

Wahine Playbook


Bullet Tonight: Rice (11-20, 2-9) at No. 3 Hawaii (23-1, 12-0), 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center.

Bullet Coaches-Hawaii: Dave Shoji (25th season, 704-136-1). Rice: Julio Morales (4th, 57-71).

Bullet Series: Hawaii leads Rice, 5-0. On Oct. 9 in Houston, the Wahine swept the Owls in 75 minutes, with Lily Kahumoku putting down a team-high 12 kills.

Bullet Top players-Hawaii: Heather Bown (6-3 Sr. MB) 4.09 kpg, .368, 2.23 bpg, 22 aces; Jessica Sudduth (6-2 Jr. LS) 3.14 kpg, .220, 22 aces, 2.60 dpg; Veronica Lima (6-2 So. MB) 1.97 kpg, .283, 2.54 dpg, 1.10 bpg, 25 aces; Jennifer Carey (6-1 Fr. S)11.91 apg, 2.64 dpg, 1.11 bpg; Lily Kahumoku (6-2 Fr. LS) 3.35 kpg, .308, 1.71 dpg. Rice: Kelly Smith (5-11 Sr. OH) 4.56 kpg, .206, 32 aces, 3.08; Klara Zelinka (6-0 Jr. OH) 3.37 kpg, 27 aces, 3.43 dpg; Leigh Leman (5-9 So. OH) 2.15 kpg, 3.37 dpg; Soleil Thon (5-6 Sr. S) 8.59 apg, 2.58 dpg.

Bullet About the Wahine: Hawaii clinched a tie for the WAC title with three road victories in four days. The Wahine swept UTEP on Monday behind Bown's 13 kills and seven blocks for their sixth straight win ... Hawaii continues to lead the country in blocks per game (3.94) with Bown No. 1 nationally in block average. As a team, Hawaii leads the WAC in hitting percentage (.286 and is second in kills (15.71). The Wahine continue to lead the country in home attendance with 117,842 on the season and a 7,365 average, more than twice that of second-place Nebraska... A victory tonight would be Hawaii's 100th in the Stan Sheriff Center against nine defeats.

Bullet About the Owls: Injury-plagued Rice lost its third in a row Saturday, falling to Fresno State, 3-1. It was the final regular-season home match for senior setter Thon, who had a career-bests of 62 assists, five kills and five blocks. Senior hitter Smith had a team-high 26 kills and sophomore hitter Leman had a career night by adding 20 kills and 25 digs ... Smith is second in the WAC in aces and third in kills ... Zelinka is second in digs while freshman Briana Cook is second behind Bown in the WAC in blocks (1.72 bpg).

Bullet On the air: Live on KFVE (Channel 5) and KCCN (1420-AM).

Bullet Tickets: $5-$9 (upper level only).

Bullet Next up: The Wahine close out WAC play with their final regular-season home match against San Jose State next Tuesday. It will be Senior Night for four-year letterwinners Jenny Roberts and Heidi Ilustre and two-year starter Heather Bown. Hawaii finishes the regular season at Arizona's Thanksgiving Invitational, Nov. 26-27 in Tucson.

By Cindy Luis, Star-Bulletin

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