Friday, August 31, 2001
[ WAHINE VOLLEYBALL ]
Family feudMELODY and Angela Eckmier didn't know if they would ever play volleyball against each other.
The Eckmiers are going head-to-head
after recovering from knee injuries
By Grace Wen
Born 22 months apart, the Eckmier sisters grew up in a tightknit family and always played together. But as close as they are, they'll wear different uniforms for the first time ever -- Melody in green and black and Angela in blue and gold. And a volleyball net separates them this weekend as fifth-ranked Hawaii battles seventh-ranked UCLA Sunday at 7 p.m.
"It should be an interesting (match)," Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji said. "They both sat out last year and they both haven't played a lot in their (college) careers."
Both sisters suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament -- Melody in her left knee and Angela in her right knee --that kept them off the court.
Melody's ACL tear came before her senior season in high school. The 6-foot-3 middle blocker wasn't sure she'd ever put on a college uniform. But Shoji had faith that she would be a strong and large presence at the net for the Wahine.
The freshman redshirted last season to fully recover and "bring her level of play up to caliber."
Angela Eckmier injured her right knee during preseason training last year. After undergoing surgery last September, the 6-2 junior rehabbed like crazy and has 80 percent of the strength recovered in her knee. She also has a partial tear in her left knee.
The Eckmiers didn't know if the day would ever come when they would play against each other.
"I know how hard it is to come back and I wanted her to come back so bad because I wanted to play against her," Melody Eckmier said. "That was what we talked about."
Both had discussed the possibility of going to the same school, too, but Melody Eckmier says that she didn't want to be in the awkward position of competing with her sister for the same position.
And for Melody, Hawaii just fit. It was her first recruiting visit but she instantly felt at home on the island.
They had looked forward to competing against each other a year ago, but both sat on the sidelines of last year's tournament. Now as starting middle blockers for their respective teams, neither knows how they'll react in their first match on different sides of the court.
"It's going to be different," Angela Eckmier said. "Growing up, we'd always been on the same teams, so I'm used to seeing her in the same uniform.
"It's hard for me to look at her and say she's my opponent. It's never happened before. It'll just be fun, especially going up at the net against each other. It's going to be a little competition to see who gets the most blocks or touches on each other's hits."
Parents Jeff and Jan Eckmier won't be keeping tabs on their daughters' performances. The Eckmiers waited a year to see their daughters play and both predict an exciting match.
"We were all set to follow the teams all over last year," Jan Eckmier said. "We had our plane tickets bought and our reservations made.
"They've done a lot of things that were alike. Neither one of them is going to be a loser. It's going to be a great match."
The parents certainly deserve to see a good one after enduring two major injuries. The family's optimism kept Melody and Angela from growing despondent during the long process of rehabilitation.
"The injury's not fun," Angela Eckmier said. "But a nice advantage I took out of the injury is that I get to meet up with Melody for two years instead of one."
As long as their knees hold up.
When: 7 p.m. today (Kansas State), Saturday (Michigan) and Sunday (UCLA)
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: Live, KCCN 1420-AM
Notes: The Wahine are looking to avoid starting the season 0-3 for the first time since 1980. This is UH's home opener, after road losses to top-ranked Nebraska and No. 4 Wisconsin.Tonight's projected starters
Hawaii (0-2) Ht. KPG Aces Digs S Jennifer Carey (Jr.) 6-1 .25 3 6 MB Melody Eckmier (Fr.) 6-3 1.00 0 1 MB Lauren Duggins (So.) 6-0 1.17 1 8 OH Kim Willoughby (So.) 6-0 6.00 1 6 OH Tanya Nikolic (Sr.) 6-0 1.83 3 18 Opp Maja Gustin (Sr.) 6-2 3.83 2 3 DS Melissa Villaroman (So.) 5-6 0 0 6
Kansas State (0-0) Ht. KPG Aces Digs S Laura Downey (So.) 5-9 -- -- -- MB Jayne Christen (Sr.) 6-4 -- -- -- MB Lauren Goehring (So.) 6-0 -- -- -- OH Liz Wegner (Jr.) 6-4 -- -- -- OH Lisa Mimick (Sr.) 5-11 -- -- -- Opp Cari Jensen (So.) 6-0 -- -- --
Ka Leo O Hawaii