Thursday, December 16, 1999
Shes A Real Natural
Stanford's freshman sensationBy Cindy Luis
Logan Tom -- a local girl at heart
-- might turn out to be one of the best
players the Cardinal have ever had
LOGAN Tom can resist anything but temptation.
Put a piece of Kona mud pie in front of her ... gone.
Ditto for poi, manapua, cuttle fish and lau lau.
Tom, who is hapa-Chinese-Hawaiian, had no problem with the food at last night's NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship luau at the Waikiki Aquarium. Summers spent in the islands since small-kid time will do that.
"I love Hawaii,'' said Tom, Stanford's freshman All-American hitter. "It's my favorite place, so laid-back. I love coming here and switching lifestyles.
"And I like being back here (for the NCAA Tournament). It's a very comfortable place for me to play.''
Hawaii is so comfortable that Tom didn't trust herself to take a recruiting visit last year to Manoa. Wahine coaches Dave Shoji and Charlie Wade tried without success to get the highly sought-after prep All-American to spend a few days in the islands.
"But I knew that if I came out, I would sign,'' said Tom, whose father, Melvyn, was an all-star basketball player at Maryknoll, went on to play football at San Jose State and the Philadelphia Eagles, and now lives on the Big Island.
"It was a big temptation, the fan support is awesome, but academics played a huge part in my decision. I wanted something to fall back on in case this volleyball thing didn't work out.''
That prospect is highly unlikely. The 6-foot-1 Tom was the only high school player on the U.S. national team at the World Championship Qualifier last January.
After graduating in May from Salt Lake City's Highland High with a 4.0 GPA and No. 1 ranking, she spent part of summer training with the U.S. junior national team, the other part with relatives in Hawaii.
In 1996, at age 16, she was also the youngest member of the U.S. junior national team. Tom ended up leading the team in blocks and kills.
It's a trend she has continued since joining the Cardinal in early September, following the Junior World Championships. Tom leads Stanford in kills and aces, and is second in digs and hitting percentage.
Her numbers were good enough to earn her District 8 Freshman of the Year honors as well as being the lone freshman on the AVCA All-American first team. She likely will be named the national freshman of the year.
"I don't like thinking about stuff like All-American,'' Tom said before Tuesday's All-American announcement. "If it happens, I'd be really excited. What an honor.
"But all I want to do is continue to work on my overall game and keep getting better.''
She's pretty good already, as Stan Sheriff Center fans witnessed last Oct. 24. Tom had 14 kills, hit .333, with 14 digs and four aces as she helped Stanford to a 15-9, 15-12, 15-10 victory over then-No. 2 Hawaii.
"I'm glad I've got Logan on my side,'' said Stanford coach Don Shaw, whose team is seeking its fifth national championship. "We've had a lot of good players in our program and she's right up there with them. She gives us a lot of things. She's a put-away hitter.
"She's working on getting better technically but she's got great ability and is a real natural for the game.''
Tom, who moved to Utah with her mother Kristine when she was 6, started her volleyball career in junior high. She was an all-state selection in basketball and placed third in javelin last year, but volleyball has always been her first love.
"It never gets old,'' she said. "Volleyball is more fun than the other sports. There's always new things for me to learn.
"That's what I love about Stanford. There's so many things out there that I'm thinking about doing that I haven't figured out my major.''
Nor has she decided on her volleyball discipline. She'd like to compete in the 2004 Olympics but it could be on the indoor team or in beach doubles.
But first there's a matter of a national title. Second-ranked Stanford takes on defending champion Long Beach State in tonight's second match at the Sheriff Center.
"Every team here made it here for a reason,'' Tom said. "It's a good field with so much talent. We need to take care of our side of the court and stay positive.
"I think it will help us that we played here earlier. I feel very comfortable in the arena.''
Tom has done some outrigger canoe paddling during her summers in Hawaii. Next on the list is learning to surf.
Despite being able to go barefoot, this trip to Hawaii is no summer vacation. Besides some serious volleyball, there's a paper due when she gets back to campus.
Tom isn't sure of the topic but, not surprisingly, it will have a Pacific theme.
The temptation not to do so is too great.
Today's semifinals: Pacific (32-2) vs. Penn State (34-1), 5 p.m.; Long Beach State (31-3) vs. Stanford (30-2), 7:30 p.m. (approximately).
Saturday's final: 5 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio/TV: No live TV or local radio