UH hopes to jump out
of the ice, into the fire

Hawaii must win in Colorado
to reach Green Bay, Wis.

In the pastry shop of the NCAA volleyball tournament, this bracket is no cakewalk. And, according to the four coaches involved in this week's sub-regional at Fort Collins, Colo., there are no cream puffs.

"This is a very strong field, probably the toughest of them all," Purdue coach Dave Shondell said. "We look at this week's tournament just like another week in the Big Ten. We have road trips in our league that include Ohio State and Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, and Illinois and Wisconsin. I think this type of schedule has prepared us well for the opening round of the 2004 NCAA tournament."

Purdue (16-14) was one of seven Big Ten schools to make the 64-team NCAA field. The Boilermakers finished tied for sixth in the conference ranked No. 1 by RichKern.com.

Colorado (14-13), Hawaii's opponent Thursday, was sixth in the Big 12, the other conference that got seven teams into the tournament. The Buffaloes were sixth in their league but "now that we're in, it's a clean slate," Colorado coach Pi'i Aiu said. "We're grateful to be a part of this and we're going to fight like hell to stay in."

For Purdue and Colorado, just making the NCAA tournament is the icing on their seasons.

For undefeated Hawaii (28-0), which fell to No. 2 in yesterday's poll, and ninth-ranked Colorado State (26-3), this draw is more like ice. Advancing to next week's regional in Green Bay will be a slippery undertaking; at least one conference champion -- Hawaii of the Western Athletic and Colorado State of the Mountain West -- will have to think about next year.

"Purdue has great balance and we expect the toughest opening match we have faced at home since I've been the coach here," said Tom Hilbert, in his seventh year as CSU coach.

The toughest part for Hawaii -- besides getting over the shock of not hosting -- was getting to the playing site. It was a scramble for the Rainbow Wahine to get a flight last night; they were scheduled to arrive in Denver this morning before making the 90-minute drive to Fort Collins.

"We have to get mentally ready to play and I think our mental outlook is good," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "The players got over the initial disappointment quickly and they were ready to go.

"This is definitely a challenge. We have to take care of Colorado first before we can think about anything else."

Shoji anticipates facing former WAC rival CSU on Friday (4 p.m. HST). Win or lose, the Wahine will come home Saturday.

"We're confident we'll win two games then go to Green Bay," Shoji said. "But we will come home first, let the players come back for two days of school. It's best for the team, rather than sitting around somewhere."


The teams

Only one of these four will be making travel plans for Wisconsin:

Hawaii (28-0)

The Rainbow Wahine, seeded third in the field, take the best record in the NCAA into Moby Arena. It's the first visit to Fort Collins since the 1996 WAC season, when UH escaped with a 3-2 win after being down 2-1.

This is the 11th 25-plus win season for Hawaii, which has missed the NCAA tournament only once (1992) since it began in 1981.

The Wahine are led by sophomore setter Kanoe Kamana'o, a Player of the Year candidate (13.67 assists per game). UH's other All-America nominee is junior middle Victoria Prince, the WAC tournament MVP, who is averaging 3.46 kills and 1.62 blocks.

Colorado State (26-3)

The Rams, in their 10th straight NCAA tournament, finished off their MWC campaign with a sweep of then-No. 19 Utah. All-league senior setter Melissa Courtney (13.69 apg) runs the balanced CSU attack.

The Rams are led by 5-11 junior hitter Tess Rogers (3.95 kpg). Middle Katie Shirley-Cahoon, a 6-foot junior, averages 3.15 kills and 1.28 blocks. CSU is 14-2 at home this year.

Purdue (16-14)

The Boilermakers continue to rebuild under second-year coach Shondell, son of retired coaching great Don Shondell (Ball State men). Kim McConaha, a 6-1 middle, leads Purdue in kills (4.05 kpg) and blocks (1.17 bpg).

"Our strengths are defense, serving and passing," Shondell said. "We have some nice offensive players and an exceptional setter (junior Renata Dargan, 13.38 apg)."

Colorado (14-13)

The Buffaloes struggled after losing two key players for the season in 6-3 middle Lynsey Mann and 6-4 hitter Maragda Santillana (4.17 kpg).

"We spent half the season trying to learn to play without them," said eighth-year CU coach Aiu, a Kamehameha Schools graduate. "What we need to do is make sure we clean up the mistakes on our side of the net and make (Hawaii) play."

NCAA Division I Volleyball

First-round matches; All times HST

Louisville, Ky. Regional

At Los Angeles

CS Northridge (17-10) vs. Kansas St. (19-10), 3 p.m.
Charleston (26-5) vs. USC(19-5), 5 p.m.
At Lincoln, Neb.

Wichita St. (24-5) vs. Nevada (21-9), 1 p.m.
Iona (19-15) vs. Nebraska (27-1), 3 p.m.
At Columbia, Mo.
Louisville (21-10) vs. Illinois (19-10), Noon
Arkansas (17-15) vs. Missouri (19-8), 2 p.m.
At San Diego
UC Irvine (18-10) vs. Arizona (18-10), 4 p.m.
New Mexico St. (29-2) vs. San Diego (22-4), 6 p.m.

Minneapolis Regional

At New Haven, Conn.

Long Island U. (32-6) vs. Minn. (28-4), 12:30 p.m.
Yale (17-7) vs. Albany, N.Y. (27-6), 2:30 p.m.
At Columbus, Ohio

Ohio (28-2) vs. Pittsburgh (21-10), Noon
Dayton (23-8) vs. Ohio State (27-3), 2 p.m.
At Knoxville, Tenn.
E. Kentucky (27-4) vs. Tenneseee (30-2), 1:30 p.m.
Winthrop (31-3) vs. Texas A&M (18-8), 2:30 p.m.
At Atlanta
Georgia (18-11) vs. Ga. Tech (25-6), Noon
Alabama A&M (20-5) vs. UC S.B. (23-3), 2 p.m.

Green Bay, Wis. Regional

At Fort Collins, Colo.

Colorado (14-13) vs. Hawaii (28-0), 2 p.m. (Live, KFVE Ch. 5 and KKEA 1420-AM)
Purdue (16-14) vs. Colorado St. (26-3), 4 p.m.
At Madison, Wis.

Valparaiso (29-4) vs. Notre Dame (20-8), 1 p.m.
Loyola of Chicago (21-8) vs. Wisconsin (19-9), 3 p.m.
At Tallahassee, Fla.
Jacksonville (15-12) vs. Stanford (24-6), Noon
Florida A&M (28-2) vs. Florida (27-4), 2 p.m.
At Austin, Texas
Rice (25-4) vs. Michigan (19-12), 1 p.m.
Texas State (27-5) vs. Texas (24-4), 3 p.m.

Seattle Regional

At Berkeley, Calif.

Sac. St. (24-7) vs. St. Mary's, Calif. (23-3), 3 p.m.
Pacific (19-9) vs. California (16-11), 5 p.m.
At Seattle

Kansas (18-11) vs. Santa Clara (18-8), 3:30 p.m.
Idaho (17-12) vs. Washington (24-2), 5:30 p.m.
At Los Angeles
Utah (24-6) vs. Long Beach St. (23-6), 3:30 p.m.
Loyola Mary. (17-11) vs. UCLA (18-10), 6 p.m.
At College Park, Pa.
Towson (25-8) vs. Maryland (17-14), Noon
American (24-6) vs. Penn St. (27-2), 2 p.m.


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