Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Smooth sailing for
Wahine in season

THIS team is so new, last night it looked lost heading out to stand for the starting lineups.


Now, that is one way to spot inexperience.

This is definitely a new Rainbow Wahine volleyball team, this season.

But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can be a fun thing, definitely an interesting thing.

In some ways, a special thing.

Melody Eckmier is the captain, now. After all these seasons, more than four of them, of bench time and injuries and work, she made it. She's out there, the captain.

In years past, she'd hardly played. Last night, she was in on seven blocks and hit .900, a school record.

"And that's awesome," coach Dave Shoji said.

That's a cool thing, that's the chicken skin thing about sports.

"I think we're going to surprise a lot of people," Susie (Shoji has called her "a different Boogaard") Boogaard said this week.

"I think we're going to have to fight for every game, but that's going to bring us closer in the long run. And I think we're going to do awesome. I think, like I said, about the team and their heart and their chemistry and the talent that all the girls have, and everything."

This was a good warm-up, last night. The Eastern Washington Eagles were good. But this is Big Sky good we're talking about.

And so, even in rebuilding, the Wahine had a big block. And they came up with those familiar miraculous pancake-scramble-over digs with typical UH panache.

They survived hitting wide. Inexperience showed, but didn't yet hurt.

And there were smiles, always smiles. A Wahine trademark.

Why do I love volleyball? Because no other sport has as many smiles.

» They introduced the national champion UH sailing team, last night. I hadn't seen so many blondes since "The Bad News Bears."

You would have to think the team motto is: "Duuude!"

» I counted 16 "Manoa Maniacs" T-shirts, representing Hawaii's new student spirit group.

One was worn by the local equivalent of "Blue" from "Old School."

He was the only one in his group not to stand after Wahine slams.

I almost burst into "Dust in the Wind."

FOR THE FIRST time in a long time, Hawaii has no stars. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

This team may not be great, but it is hungry.

"No one was afraid," Eckmier said.

Alicia Arnott has a hammer. Eckmier stands tall. Boogaard has the best sign in the stands, to date: "UH CASABLANCA; Play It Again, Susie."

"I got two leis around my neck and that's really never happened before," said transfer Victoria Prince.

It wasn't all good, of course. There were miscues. Juliana Sanders went down and was carried off the court like Kerri Strug.

But these are players going after their first big chances, and they're doing it together.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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