Wahine grab junior
Hawaii is making sure the pantry won't be empty after seven Rainbow Wahine volleyball players complete their eligibility in 2003.
In assembling its class of 2004, Hawaii seems to be plucking players from all 50 states. Outside hitter Tara Hittle of Colorado said she plans to play volleyball for the Wahine. Hittle will be a senior at Doherty High in Colorado Springs this fall. Hawaii has already received verbal commitments from Nickie Thomas of Texas and Jessica Keefe of Iowa.
"I really liked Hawaii," said the 6-foot junior, who touches 9-11. "The people were so friendly. I knew that Dave and Charlie were pretty fun people. That means a lot to me because I'd really enjoy playing for people who like to have fun and win."
Hittle had some fun when she informed Hawaii coach Dave Shoji of her decision.
"It was pretty funny. I didn't want to do it like normal," she said. "I told (Dave) a small school in Rhode Island just became interested in me so I think I might want to go on a visit. And then I asked him to get a piece of paper. I could hear him in the background asking for a pen. After he was ready, I said 'jersey size -- large, shoe size -- 9.5. So then I was like I want to come to Hawaii ...(and) he was laughing."
A basketball player since the fourth grade, Hittle wasn't going to play volleyball in high school. She considered running cross country until a friend talked her into trying volleyball. She joined the Colorado Juniors volleyball club and spent her first year as a libero before moving into a hitting role in her second season. Club coach Judy Peer thinks that Hittle has reached just a fraction of her potential.
"She's pretty new to the game," Peer said. " She just started with us and she was the libero her first year. She's a great athlete but she didn't have any control yet. ...This is only her first year at left front so her upside is huge. Her ball control is a la Logan Tom. She can already do the backcourt game pretty well.
"She's just a natural athlete. She played basketball all her life and then we converted her. We only practice twice a week so she's going to turn into a monster in college."
National letters of intent cannot be signed until the fall. Hittle was recruited by several schools, including Michigan State, Long Beach State, Florida State, Stanford and UC Santa Barbara.
She is a three-year starter on the varsity basketball team. In basketball, her teams have finished as the state runner-up her first two seasons. Her volleyball team was runner-up last fall in the Colorado 5A division. Hittle said that she will only play volleyball in college.
"She's going to be a crowd pleaser," adds Peer. "She smiles all the time and she has fun constantly."