Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, August 6, 2001


Stevie Li, above, and teammate Alika Williams beat Troy Hotz
and Keoki Shupe 15-4 in yesterday's final of the Riggers Beach
Volleyball Championship on Queen's Beach.

Li sets up
his third Rigger
V-ball title

Stevie Li's finesse teams up
with Alika Williams' power
to dominate the final

By Grace Wen

Stevie Li and Alika Williams looked as though they had never been apart.

Li fed Williams nectar sets that he pounded all day as they cruised to their second win together at the 13th Annual Riggers Beach Volleyball Championships at Queen's Beach.

Li and Williams easily defeated Troy Hotz and Keoki Shupe 15-4 in yesterday's final. It was the third Riggers victory for Li, who won two years ago with Lee LeGrande and with Williams in 1997.

"We had a slow tournament until the end," Li said. "We finally clicked. (Williams) serves were hot and I was setting him well. He was unloading on them and not holding back at all."

In the final, Li and Williams raced out to a quick 9-1 lead after the second side change. Li and Williams took advantage when they were on the good (ocean) side and also scored from the bad side.

"They were serving really well," Hotz said. "With a team that serves as tough as they did ... they just kept on running away and running away with it. We tried to make a little comeback but it was a little too late."

Hotz and Shupe managed to score three more points on the ocean side, including an ace by Shupe, but another side change sent Li and Williams back to the ocean side. A couple of kills from Williams and an ace that went untouched on the end line ended the match.

Hotz and Shupe were spent after beating Pono Ma'a and Guy Kanino 15-11 in the consolation bracket final. They avenged a 17-15 loss suffered against Ma'a and Kanino yesterday only to meet Li and Williams, who were well-rested in the shade.

Had Hotz and Shupe won the first match, the two teams would have played a second time, as Li and Williams had not lost in the double-elimination tournament.

The wind played a huge factor both days, favoring teams on the ocean side of the net.

Li said it took him a day and a half to figure out the side wind. As more of a finesse player, he relies on shot placement, but his shots were not dropping where he wanted them to.

The excitement may have been missing in the final, but there was drama in the semifinal of the double-elimination tournament. Williams and Li barely squeaked by former AVP pro Pono Ma'a and Guy Kanino 15-13.

The match seesawed back and forth before Williams aced them and Li came up with a big dig.

"Our two games before the final, we really struggled," Williams said. "We were playing tight and finally loosened up. It could have gone either way.

"Pono's a really good blocker. We were a little rattled by him."

Heidi Illustre and Tanya Fuamatu knocked off Janice Harrer and Linda Nelson 15-10 in the women's final earlier in the day. It was the first time that Illustre and Fuamatu played together.

"It was a tough match," Illustre said. "We played them yesterday and we knew they were going to come back even stronger. We communicated better today."

Illustre says that she plans to play on the AVP qualifier.

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