Thursday, November 9, 2000
Brigham Young University-Hawaii senior outside hitter Kapu Elkington began her collegiate women's volleyball career more than five seasons ago, yet she is still not quite ready for it to end.
will take one last
shot at No. 1 HPU
Senior veteran hitter
almost quit after taking
the 1998 season off
By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin
That's because Elkington and her defending national champion Seasiders have some unfinished business to take care of, in the form of their fourth matchup of the year with Hawaii Pacific University, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II and the Pacific West's Pacific Division champion. The match is tomorrow in the first-round of the PacWest Championship Tournament at Blaisdell Arena.
Three of No. 7 BYUH's (16-5, 12-2) five losses this season have come against the Sea Warriors (21-0, 14-0).
With the winner of the four-team tournament virtually assured of a spot in the six-team NCAA Division II Pacific Regional next weekend, Elkington knows that a win over the Sea Warriors would go a long way in convincing regional committee voters that the Seasiders' season should continue.
"When I think of HPU, all I think is 'huge,' because they have so many tall players," Elkington said.
"But in our heads, we know we can beat them because we took them to five games the second time we played them this year.
"We know we have to beat them or it's probably the end of our season (after the tournament consolation match). But we're real excited, and we know it's now or never."
The former Kamehameha Schools standout from Laie began her collegiate career back in 1995 at the University of Hawaii. But after redshirting that year with the Division I Wahine and playing sparingly in her next two seasons, Elkington left Manoa and opted to take the 1998 season off to give birth and take care of her son, Rah.
Elkington decided to resume her studies and volleyball career in 1999 with the Seasiders. But the transition wasn't all that simple.
"In the beginning, it was really hard getting into playing shape," Elkington said.
"My body was in a lot of pain and I told Coach (Wilfred) Navalta that I wanted to quit.
"But he told me to be patient, and he and my parents had a lot of faith in me.
"I stuck with it, and eventually the pain went away."
After a slow start last season, Elkington made major contributions as a role player down the stretch in helping the Seasiders to the national title.
With the loss of two first-team All-Americans to graduation, however, Elkington has assumed bigger playing and leadership responsibilities for a relatively young team.
"The four seniors this year were the only returnees and we knew we had to be leaders, but some of us were not used to it because we were never in this position before," Elkington said. "But we have a lot of patience with the younger girls and try to give them as much positive feedback as possible.
They've already improved so much from the beginning of this year."
Nonetheless, Elkington and the Seasiders will have to play at the top of their games to beat the veteran-laden HPU squad.
At Blaisdell Arena
Brigham Young University-Hawaii vs. Hawaii Pacific University, 5 p.m.
Seattle Pacific vs. W. Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Consolation match, 5 p.m.
Championship match, 7:30 p.m.