Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, August 11, 2001



Wahine face depth
problems after
rough summer

If the season were to start
tomorrow, transfer Nohea
Tano would be a starter

By Grace Wen

After three days of practice, University of Hawaii Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji was able to breathe a small sigh of relief as yesterday's session ended without major incident.

There were no injuries, no additional players sitting out the season and no new questions of eligibility posed for the moment.

And though Shoji has seen everything in 27 seasons of coaching, he concedes that it has been a particularly difficult summer.

"This has been a rough summer," Shoji said. "There's no doubt about it. There's been a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questions posed with (Veronica) Lima and Lily (Kahumoku). And then with Nohea (Tano) and (Jen) Fopma, but I'm hoping it's not going to be common every year."

Depth was already a question for the Wahine even before senior Tanja Nikolic suffered a mild sprain to her right ankle in practice Thursday. Nikolic rested as a precautionary measure yesterday and will be back in practice today.

Nikolic's injury demonstrates the Wahine's vulnerability, as Shoji said he would start transfer Nohea Tano (who only became eligible on Monday) if the team were to play tomorrow.

With All-American Lily Kahumoku at home in Alabama and top recruit Jennifer Saleaumua trying to qualify academically, the Wahine are struggling to piece together a lineup that seems to change daily.

And there is the distraction of wondering whether Kahumoku might change her mind -- she has shown signs of wavering in the past week.

"It's very much a distraction," Shoji said. "I just don't want anybody anticipating a return. We're prepared and the players are prepared to play without her.

"I don't have an absolute deadline, but obviously the longer she waits the more difficult the situation gets. It's at the point now where it would be kind of hard for her to be ready by the time the first match rolls around."

While Shoji is waiting, the players are trying to focus on practice and preparing for the opener in two weeks.

"We're practicing really well," sophomore Maja Gustin said. "We need to replace all these spots because we don't have three people from last year. It's a bigger challenge for us. We are working on that really hard right now. We're trying everything."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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