Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, October 13, 2001



Wahine win WAC
home opener

Hawaii gets a tougher match
than expected before beating UTEP

By Grace Wen

The best of the West met the best of the East and the Hawaii volleyball team showed how the West was won.

Behind the arm of outside hitter Kim Willoughby, Hawaii defeated Texas-El Paso 30-23, 23-30, 30-22, 30-21 before 4,990 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UTEP was the preseason pick to win the Eastern Division of the Western Athletic Conference and Hawaii the coaches' choice in the West. But the Wahine continued their dominance of Eastern Division teams as they extended their win streak to eight games.

"We knew (the Miners) were going to be a much-improved team," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "But I don't know if our team believed us. We had a problem with their serving."

The Miners outserved the Wahine eight aces to seven and caused passing problems but had no answer for Willoughby.

The sophomore hammered 36 kills and broke her own record for kills in a four-game match. Willoughby set the record earlier this season with 35 kills against Santa Clara. She helped the Wahine outhit the Miners .262 to .151 but also saw twice as many sets.

"She's not my only option," setter Margaret Vakasausau said. "She's my best option. She's constantly asking for the ball."

UTEP didn't make it easy for Hawaii, jumping out to a 6-3 lead in Game 2. The Wahine erased a 12-6 Miner lead behind two kills by Willoughby, a kill by Nohea Tano and three Miner errors.

The two teams battled back and forth, but Hawaii looked tentative late in the game and it proved costly. The Wahine were not as aggressive at the net, opting to pass balls instead of attacking over passes. Five errors by the Wahine allowed the Miners to take a 25-22 lead.

Ana Beatriz Fontes served three of her four aces as UTEP surged to a 28-22 lead. The Miners got a handle on the Wahine offense in the second game and had seven blocks, after posting none in the first game.

The Miners were victorious in a game vs. the Wahine for the first time in seven meetings.

"Our communication went down," Willoughby said. "We just didn't talk as much as normal."

Hawaii recovered though and took the next two games.

The Wahine play Southern Methodist tomorrow at 4 p.m.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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