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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, November 2, 2000

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

Carey: Hub
of the Wahine

The setter's timing, touch
makes it easier for hitters
to do their thing

By Pat Bigold

In the age of Title IX, the term, "cheerleader," is regarded with disdain by many female athletes.

But Jennifer Carey always wanted to be one, and she's not ashamed to admit it.

"I think they really are a part of athletics," said the 6-foot University of Hawaii sophomore setter from Newport Beach, Calif. "Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by cheerleaders. The girls looked pretty and got to dance around."

She went to camps and even dressed up as a cheerleader for Halloween.

"My whole goal was I always wanted to be on the top of the pyramid, but as soon as I started growing I knew that wasn't going to happen," she said.

She's fantasized about being tossed high in the air.

"I think it would be totally fun, but I'd have to trust the guy below me," she said.

The guy, she pointed out, would "definitely" have to be a football player.

Back to reality.

Carey might have a hard time waving pompoms while the Wahine engaged in a tight Western Athletic Conference match.

Her heart is too much into the game.

This is, after all, the woman who took an accidental punch in the nose from teammate Veronica Lima diving for a dig two weekends ago on the road in Texas.

Carey, who has set the Wahine (20-0 overall, 10-0 WAC) to a conference-leading .305 hitting percentage, said she slept on volleyball courts as a baby while parents George and Becky coached.

"People were always bouncing balls to me, and my dad used to always toss me the ball and I used to set it back to him," said Carey.

"I started out with a balloon because the ball was too heavy."

Like cheerleaders, setters receive only glances from the crowd.

They are the unheralded quarterbacks who quickly disappear in the blaze of an outside hitter's critically timed kill.

Setters don't get interviewed very often, even though the offense revolves around them.

"They don't get much credit for putting the ball down but they are the hub of the whole team," said Wahine head coach Dave Shoji.

Standing in the shadows of her hitters and blockers doesn't dampen Carey's enthusiasm.

"That's not my concern at all," she said.

"I've always enjoyed setting more than hitting. I've always enjoyed putting up a good set, and watching my hitter get a kill."

Carey is averaging 12.47 assists a game this season after 59 games (736 total).

She also has 134 digs and 40 blocks.

She started at setter in her freshman season, compiling nine double-doubles in assists and digs. She averaged 11.62 assists and 2.38 digs a game.

"She was probably the only setter available in the country who was going to come in and set the offense right away," said Shoji, who won out over Penn State, Texas A&M and UCLA in recruiting Carey.

Carey is backed up by sophomore, Margaret Vakasausau, who's also proven herself effective this year.

Because Vakasausau is four inches shorter than Carey, her sets are shorter and quicker.

"We have different releases," said Carey.

She said both work well with this Wahine offense.

"We have the tall, strong outside hitters," she said. "Give them high sets, they go over the block. Give them quick sets, they beat the block."

Because of Carey's size, she also has the potential to produce offense.

"Every once in a while I get my kills and they're fun," said Carey, who has 27 kills this season.

UH Athletics

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