Road trip takes
UH’s Willoughby
back home

The volleyball star will play
in front of family and friends
at LSU

Three matches, three days, three cities. Houston, Baton Rouge, Tulsa.

While the rest of the Hawaii volleyball team focuses on the length of this week's road trip and the taxing schedule, Kim Willoughby is thinking of two things: home and home cooking.

Wahine volleyball

Tomorrow: No. 2 Hawaii (20-1, 7-0) at Rice (13-8, 4-3), 2 p.m. HST

Friday: Hawaii at Louisiana State (9-12), 2 p.m. HST

Saturday: Hawaii at Tulsa (11-9, 2-5), 2 p.m. HST

Radio: KKEA (1420-AM)

The Rainbow Wahine's coaches are fulfilling their recruiting promise to Willoughby to have the Napoleonville, La., native play at home during her career. Two years ago, the trip was to Louisiana Tech. Last year, the NCAA final four was in New Orleans.

This Friday's match at Louisiana State is even closer than the two previous trips. LSU, in Baton Rouge, is about 50 miles from Willoughby's hometown. She's expecting an entourage of family, friends, former coaches and teammates to make the 75-minute trek, as well as some of her mother's cooking.

Tomorrow, Rice will be the opponent. Friday, it will be red beans and rice, courtesy of Lula Mae Willoughby.

"I'm really, really, really excited to get back there," said Willoughby after the team's rare morning practice yesterday. "Of course, we have to go to Houston first and focus on Rice.

"But it's great to get to play that close to home. And the food will be good."

The travel won't be. Coach Dave Shoji admits it.

Not having senior All-American Lily Kahumoku won't help either.

It was decided yesterday morning that Kahumoku would not make the trip. She sat out last Thursday's win over Louisiana Tech with back spasms, but was able to play against SMU on Saturday and Arizona on Sunday.

"One of the factors is the physical aspect of the trip," Shoji said. "The trip will be brutal with a lot of flying.

"Schoolwork is a factor. She's got a heavy load this semester and some tough classes. We all felt it was the best decision."

Two weeks ago, Hawaii (20-1) was without Willoughby (strep throat) for matches at Boise State and UTEP. Shoji will again insert sophomore Susie Boogaard on the right side, this time replacing Kahumoku.

It shouldn't threaten Hawaii's winning streaks of 72 WAC matches or 19 straight this season.

"This trip is a little tougher travel-wise, more demanding," Willoughby said. "But this team doesn't miss if one of us isn't there."

Shoji didn't think it would be a problem.

"We should be able to handle it," he said. "The kids just get up and play. They've never complained. We've traveled on game days before and played well. I have no reservations about it.

"If we play our game, I don't think we're going to lose. Kim may get more sets, but we're also thinking about the future. (Susie) Boogaard and (freshman Alicia) Arnott will be out there for us. This is a good opportunity for them to get some playing time."

It should also be a chance for the Rainbow Wahine to work on their passing and middle attack, something that fell apart Sunday against Arizona.


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