Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, September 12, 2001


St. Francis' Elizabeth Narkon has gotten much
attention, getting dozens of scholarship offers.

Making a mark

St. Francis hopes that its complete
package at middle blocker can
take the team one step farther

By Tim Crouse

Ball after ball smacked the hardwood floor during the afternoon practice session.

Elizabeth Narkon scowled after an occasional shot went wide or was blocked at the net, but continued to hammer the volleyball over the net, often through the middle, but also down the line or across the court at an angle.

Narkon, a 6-foot senior middle blocker, had a super junior season that brought her recognition off the court -- in the form of all-star awards -- and a whole lot of notice from the college volleyball community.

"She's had 50 offers from colleges, about half of them Division I," St. Francis coach Sean Maskell said. "She's also had about 20 offers for basketball."

Narkon and the Troubadours lost their opening Interscholastic League of Honolulu match on Friday to Iolani in straight sets, but Narkon blasted 12 kills, tops on the team.

"We knew they would go to her a lot," Iolani coach Ann Kang said. "It's impressive that you can still get your kills when the other team knows. We put our best block against her and she still got a good number of kills."

St. Francis rebounded on Saturday to sweep University, and Narkon added five more kills.

Narkon and the Troubadours nearly finished off a remarkable season last year with a state championship, falling one match short in the state tournament. And that from a school that had never sent a team to the state tournament before.

"We learned that we can't take anything for granted," senior outside hitter Jenae Barona said. "We just have to keep getting better. Even though last year we had a good team, we still have to keep improving."

St. Francis lost 10 seniors to graduation, including two all-state players.

"It's going to be hard to replace all-state players, but we do have people who can replace parts of them," Maskell said. "We have a lot of height. We have good blockers. We have people who can pass. They're just not the same people we had last year."

Four seniors return for Maskell this season -- setter Jonni Brown, outside hitter Pua Ching, Barona and an improved Narkon.

Last year, Narkon only played the front row, but her all-around skills have improved to allow her to play anywhere this season.

"She's really matured," said Maskell. "She can play (every spot on the floor). We're not going to take her out."

Hitting the ball hard is one of Narkon's top attributes on the court.

"She hits and blocks very well," Maskell said. "Power is her main strength.

"She's also smart. She hits around blocks well and she covers well, so if she is blocked she's in position (to keep the ball in play)," he added.

Said Kang: "Her (hitting) technique is good. She's a versatile hitter. You can't take all the shots away from her. We know we're not going to totally shut her down."

Maskell said once a play is in progress Narkon relies mostly on instinct, but she and her teammates make adjustments between points, often before the coaches mention it.

"(Narkon) talks a lot to Jonni, to the setters. They are able to make adjustments on their own and I also help them (with pointers)," Maskell said. "We're on the same page."

All that could add up to a huge year for the senior, and another successful season for St. Francis.

"(Narkon has) worked hard to improve herself," Kang said. "She had a taste of success last year and she wants it her senior year."

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