Wahine welcome
3 ranked opponents

Fresh off a loss to USC,
Hawaii faces UCLA,
Minnesota and Louisville

Wahine Classic

What: 16th Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
When: Tomorrow through Monday
TV: All matches live, KFVE, Ch. 5.
Radio: All Hawaii matches live, KKEA 1420-AM.
Internet: and
Tickets: $3-$16. Available at Sheriff Center ticket office, by calling 944-BOWS or online at


Tomorrow: No. 13 UCLA vs. No. 22 Louisville, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Hawaii vs. No. 6 Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Minnesota vs. Louisville, 1 p.m.
Sunday: UCLA vs. Minnesota, 3 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Louisville, 5 p.m.
Monday: Hawaii vs. UCLA, 4 p.m.

They have been around the game a long time. A very long time.

The game of volleyball brings them together this week in the 16th Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic.

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji and Minnesota's Mike Hebert were intramural rivals when competing for their respective fraternities at UC Santa Barbara in the 1960s.

Andy Banachowski was about 100 miles south, setting for UCLA's two national USVBA championship teams in the 1960s.

The All-American then assisted men's coach Al Scates, during which time the Bruins won four NCAA titles in the 1970s. Banachowski, only the second volleyball coach to reach 900 career wins -- Scates is the other -- has coached six championship women's teams.

Louisville's Leonid Yelin was a teenager in Russia while his three American counterparts were honing their volleyball skills, skills that would take them from individual playing honors to national coaching recognition. Yelin began making a name for himself as a player for Uzbekistan in the 1970s, then as a coach in his homeland and in Ukraine.

Among them, the four have more than 2000 victories and a dozen collegiate titles. Yelin is the latest to bring back a championship; his Barry University team won the NCAA Division II 1995 banner.

Only Hebert, who has built powerhouse programs at Illinois and Minnesota, doesn't have a college title on his résumé. But he did lead the U.S. women's team to third place in the recent Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic. Two players who were on the U.S. team -- Minnesota hitter Nicole Branagh and Louisville libero Sarah Drury -- will play against each other Saturday.

Next to last week's NACWAA/State Farm Classic, the HAL tournament has established itself as one of the best preseason events in the country.

"It's a pretty tough start to the season," said Banachowski.


A look at the teams

(Last year's record in parentheses)

No. 2 Hawaii (34-2)

The Wahine opened the season 1-1, finishing second in the NACWAA/State Farm Classic last weekend. Hawaii swept No. 15 Kansas State, then got swept by defending national champion and top-ranked Southern California.

The Wahine placed two players on the all-tournament team in senior hitters Kim Willoughby and Lily Kahumoku.

Willoughby broke Teee Williams' school record for most career kills when putting down 28 against Kansas State last Friday; Willoughby has 1,895 in 331 games, and Williams had 1,873 kills in 350 games.

Kahumoku ranks eighth on the career kill list with 1,355. She needs just 31 to pass Deitre Collins (1,385).

This is the second of four tournaments Hawaii hosts to start the season. The Wahine are 34-11 in the HAL event and have won seven of the titles, including three of the last four.

Hawaii coach Dave Shoji is in his 29th season (805-148-1). The Wahine lead the series with UCLA 31-28, with Minnesota 5-0, and with Louisville 2-0.

No. 6 Minnesota (32-6)

The Golden Gophers are coming off a season that saw them win their first Big Ten championship. Minnesota lost to Arizona in the NCAA regional to end the year.

The Gophers return six starters from last season, including second-team All-American Cassie Busse (6-2, Sr., OP) and third-team All-American Paula Gentil (5-9, So., L), the region's Freshman of the Year.

Also back are all-conference setter Lindsey Vander Well Taatjes (5-10, Jr.) and all-Big Ten Freshman Team pick Jessica Byrnes (6-2, So., OH). There are high expectations for Athena Mallakis (6-1, Fr., MB) who sat out 2002 with knee surgery.

Mike Hebert, last year's Big Ten Coach of the Year, is in his eighth season (173-66). He was the head coach at Illinois when the Illini lost to Hawaii in the 1987 and 1988 NCAA Tournament semifinals.

This is Minnesota's fourth appearance in the HAL Classic, going 2-7 in three tourneys. The Gophers trail the series with Hawaii 0-5, with Louisville 0-1 and with UCLA 1-3.

No. 13 UCLA (20-14)

The Bruins are back again for this tournament, having competed in all of the previous 15. UCLA is 33-12 in past play, with six titles, the last coming in 2001.

Last season, the Bruins upset Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but lost to host Pepperdine in the second round.

The Bruins are young, with five freshmen and five juniors on the 17-player roster. UCLA runs a 6-2 offense and again will use two setters: Krystal McFarland (5-10, Jr.) and Haley Jorgensborg (5-11, So.).

UCLA's most experienced player is Cira Wright (6-0, Sr., MB). Brittany Ringel (6-1, Jr., OH) is the team's top returning kill leader, averaging 3.30 kpg, and also returning is all-region pick Chrissie Zartman (5-5, Jr., L), who set the school record for digs with 535.

Andy Banachowski is in his 36th season (939-235), with six national titles -- one DGWS, two AIAW and three NCAA.

UCLA trails in the series with Hawaii 28-31, but leads Minnesota 3-1 and Louisville 2-1.

No. 22 Louisville (28-6)

The Cardinals ended one of their best seasons when falling to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

Louisville features a roster loaded with international experience, including Conference USA's Preseason Player of the Year Bing Sun (6-1, Jr., OH). Sun, from China, averaged 4.45 kills and 2.59 digs last year.

Also back is Sonja Percan (6-2, Sr., OH), who played for the Croatian National Team this past summer. Percan was averaging 4.92 kills a game in five matches before going down with a season-ending ankle injury.

The Cardinals have just two players shorter than 6 feet: Kentucky transfer Candace Cogan (5-8, Jr., DS) and Jennifer Craven (5-9, So., DS). Russian Zoya Filippova (6-2, So.) is the tallest setter in the program's history.

Coach Leonid Yelin is in his eighth year (170-55).

This is Louisville's second HAL appearance. In 1996, the Cardinals beat UCLA and Michigan and lost to host Hawaii.

The Cardinals trail in the series with Hawaii 0-2 and with UCLA 1-2 but lead 1-0 against Minnesota.


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