Shoji, Wahine aren’t
looking past Cal Poly

The Mustangs upset a similarly
powerful UH squad in 1989

By Grace Wen

If last weekend's match against Washington wasn't enough of a wake-up call for Hawaii, then perhaps a reminder of a past Rainbow Wahine volleyball team could help.

A 24-3 series record favoring Hawaii would indicate that tomorrow's 7 p.m. match against unranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1-5) should be another ho-hum drubbing of an unranked opponent.

But tomorrow, the fourth-ranked Wahine (6-0) could suffer the same fate as an unsuspecting but talented group did 13 years ago.

In 1989, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, coached by current Hawaii men's coach Mike Wilton, snapped Hawaii's 55-game win streak in Klum Gym.

"There's not many people that thought we were going to win that match back in old Klum Gym," Wilton said. "Hawaii had a real good team. And our team, player by player, maybe it didn't make much sense that we would cause them trouble. But for some reason we did.

"We ball-controlled really good and we just dug a lot of balls. We weren't very big, but we passed good and we served good. We just caused them problems. They beat us the second night, but it just wasn't easy."

The 1989 Wahine team averaged 5-feet-11 in height and featured All-American Teee Williams, Karrie Trieschman, Cheri Boyer, Malin Fransson, Mary Robins, and Toni Nishida.

Wilton estimated that his team was mostly around 5-8 with one 6-0 middle. The setter for the Mustangs that season was 5-6 Kim Kaaiai, a 1987 All-American from University High.

Whether or not this season's Mustangs will do anything against the Wahine is questionable. Cal Poly's poor start is uncharacteristic, but it has an unusually tough schedule.

"They've played a bunch of good teams. Their record isn't good, but I know they'll be very, very competitive," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "They're just a good Big West team. They're used to good competition."

But maybe you can have too much of a good thing.

The Mustangs have already racked up losses to No. 1 Stanford, then-No. 25 Notre Dame and No. 8 Utah. Including Hawaii, Cal Poly faces four ranked teams in its first seven matches.

"It wouldn't have been bad to give ourselves a breather in here somewhere, but we learn from what we do," Mustangs coach Steve Schlick said. "We just try to be better the next time we do it."

Their schedule doesn't get any easier, with Big West conference play starting next week. Schlick hopes Cal Poly can be better this weekend, when he's hoping to at least settle on a lineup.

The Mustangs have used four different lineups, with varying success. Part of the shuffle has been because all-conference middle blocker Worthy Lien injured her ankle in the first match of the season.

Even without Lien, Cal Poly has put up a formidable block, stuffing opponents an average of 3.58 times a game. It's the Mustang offense that has sputtered in Lien's absence. The team's blend of old and new has struggled with ball control and getting quality swings.

Schlick knows that any team can be beaten, but he's also realistic about playing the Wahine at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"Anything can happen on any night. I'm looking for us to play hard and be aggressive, not only serving, but with our swings as well," Schlick said. "If we are able to terminate, we have a chance to compete. If we don't terminate, we're going to struggle.

"The firepower of Lily (Kahumoku) and (Kim)Willoughby is pretty doggone phenomenal and you have some great players around them as well. When you have a left side that can terminate like those guys can, it's a tremendous source of strength. Because in any given situation, even if you're out of system, you've got some people that are just tremendous offensive weapons."

UH Athletics

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