Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, December 6, 1999

B. Y. U. _ H A W A I I


Seasiders back as
national champs

Moving from the NAIA to
NCAA Division II didn't make a
difference for BYU-Hawaii

By Cindy Luis


H.U.I. It spelled Heart, Unity and Intelligence for the Brigham Young University-Hawaii women's volleyball team.

It translated into the Seasiders' ninth national championship and first at the NCAA Division II level. BYU-Hawaii (30-2) returned home last night from Battle Creek, Mich., where the team capped its sweep through the Elite Eight field with a 15-3, 15-12, 15-13 victory over Tampa Saturday.

"It felt like it was harder to get the chance to be in the national tournament than to play the matches,'' said Seasider junior hitter Vanessa Valansi, who had 19 kills against Tampa. "Once we got there, I felt that we'd win. And I hope we can do it again next year.''

It will be a rebuilding year for the Seasiders, whose only losses came to island rival and 1998 national champion Hawaii Pacific. Gone will be All-Americans Arlete Silva and Juliana Lima, and defensive specialist Tammy Peniata.

Silva, the first four-time All-American at BYU-Hawaii, ended her career as the MVP of the national tournament. She had 23 kills and hit .556 against Tampa Saturday.

"It was awesome when you can finish your career as a champion,'' said Silva, the school's all-time kill leader. "You want to leave with a good feeling, not just for yourself, but for your teammates and coaches and your school.''

The Seasiders have been very good during Silva's career. In her four years, BYU-Hawaii won three national titles and went 120-5; three loses were to HPU and one each to Hawaii and Peru State.

Tampa threatened in both Games 2 and 3 Saturday, but "our seniors played their hearts out at the end,'' said assistant coach Jay Akoi.

"Our goal from the very beginning of the season was to be national champions,'' said senior setter Juliana Lima, named to the all-tournament team along with Valansi and Silva. "We worked hard for it and we accomplished it.''

Lima, the school's all-time assist leader, served aloha ball and then put down the match-ender from the back row.

"It wasn't really a kill,'' said Lima, a three-time All-American. "I was placing a set in the back corner. I was really grateful for the opportunity to try to win it and it was a good way to end my career.''

The Seasiders won eight NAIA titles between 1986 and 1997. In 23 years of competition, Hawaii's small colleges have hung 18 championships banners: 14 NAIA between 1981-97; 2 AIAW Division II (1979 and '81) and 2 NCAA Division II (1998-99). A Hawaii team has placed either second, third or fourth in the other five seasons.

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