Hawaii hosts spring

Better late than never.

Fans disgruntled over the NCAA not giving the Hawaii women's volleyball team a postseason tournament home match have their chance to celebrate with the Rainbow Wahine tomorrow. Hawaii will host Nebraska in a spring exhibition at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Nebraska at Hawaii

When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

Tickets: $3-$10.

Radio/TV: None

Promotion: Fans can redeem their ticket stub for a ticket to either Saturday or Sunday's baseball game between the Rainbows and Louisiana Tech.

The Wahine finished 30-1, their only loss coming in the regional semifinal against Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers were 30-2, falling to Southern California in the regional final.

"We've all been working really hard in spring," said junior Victoria Prince, who earned second-team All-America honors last season. "Everyone's improved a lot, gotten stronger and faster. It should be a really exciting match.

"Nebraska's a really good team and they pretty much had the same story we did, being No. 1 and then getting upset. They're pretty stacked. It should be a really exciting match. I know our fans will come out."

Some 4,000 tickets have already been sold. The match will use an experimental format that could become permanent as early as 2006.

Games will be scored to 25, except Game 5, which will end at 15. It will be a best-of-5 with a fourth game played even if one team sweeps the first three.

"It's exciting to have Nebraska here," Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. "They will be highly ranked, possibly No. 1, to start the season.

"I think both coaches would say we're not putting a lot of importance on the game. There's not much pressure on either team. It should be fun."

Hawaii returns all of its starters, including two-time All-America setter Kanoe Kamana'o. Also back are All-WAC performers Alicia Arnott, Susie Boogaard, Ashley Watanabe, Tara Hittle and Juliana Sanders.

Nebraska also returns all of its starters, including AVCA National Freshman of the Year Sarah Pavan. The Huskers also have two All-Americans in Melissa Elmer and Jennifer Saleaumua, the latter who originally signed with Hawaii before opting for Nebraska.

"Our goals for the spring are to give some of our younger players extensive time on the court and to work on expanding our offensive systems," Nebraska coach John Cook said. "Playing Hawaii at their place with most of their lineup returning will be a good test to see where we are at this time of the year."

Shoji feels the same way. He expects to sprinkle a number of redshirts or seldom-used players among his veterans, including using Raeceen Woolford, Kelly Ong and Caroline Blood at libero in addition to returnee Watanabe.

Making their debut will be redshirt freshmen Nickie Thomas, a 6-foot-3 middle, and 6-foot hitter Jessica Keefe. Sarah Mason of Hilo, a 6-3 transfer from Oregon, may see action but injured her finger in practice earlier this month.

"I think people are anxious to see the team again," Shoji said. "We should be a better team than last year."

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com