Hawaii Grown Report

Ashley Aratani and Tamari Miyashiro have made themselves at home at the University of Washington.

No green, no envy

Miyashiro and Aratani are thriving after
leaving the state to play for Washington

The future was supposed to be in green and white for Tamari Miyashiro.

Her mother, Joey Akeo Miyashiro, was a two-time All-American for Hawaii, including the program's inaugural volleyball season in 1974.

Her sister Tehani and cousin Aven Lee were second-generation Rainbow Wahine.

Tamari, like current Wahine setter Kanoe Kamana'o, was one with the court ... literally. They grew up at the Stan Sheriff Center as floor-wipers who mopped up players' sweat during timeouts of Hawaii matches.

It was during one of those moments in last Friday's match that Joey Miyashiro had a deja vu moment. When the floor-wipers were slow getting to a wet spot, UW setter Courtney Thompson started doing the wiping.

"I flashed back to when Tamari was doing the wiping, when Tehani and Aven were playing," said Joey.

And then Joey looked over at the Washington sideline, smiling at her younger daughter. Tamari was making her first trip home as a collegiate player, wearing UW purple.

The 2005 Kalani graduate didn't play either night as the No. 2 Huskies swept the Wahine. The plans are for her to redshirt this season and become the backup at setter next year when Thompson is a senior. The only hitch in that would be if the All-American Thompson should go down with an injury.

"If we can save Tama this season, that's what we want to do," UW coach Jim McLaughlin said. "Then we'll have her for four years.

"We looked at her initially as a setter and a DS (defensive specialist). She has such a nice feel for the game. She knows how to control and run a team, has the court wisdom you want. During our preseason camp, she was right there with Courtney. The kids love Tama and she's got some good leadership skills."

Tamari Miyashiro yelled encouragement to teammate Ashley Aratani as Aratani entered the game as a substitute server in a game against the Wahine.

The 5-foot-7 Miyashiro was the 2004 state tournament Most Outstanding Player as a senior despite her team finishing fifth. She didn't play setter for the Falcons -- a team coached by her mother -- but did set for her club team.

"She played outside in high school out of needs for the team," Joey Miyashiro said. "She sacrificed for the good of the team. We knew all along that she would not be playing Division I at her size on the outside.

"Very much like (UW All-American libero) Candace Lee. She was her high school team's best hitter, but her size (5-7) has her playing libero. She's in a good situation right now and she loves learning and getting better. For the first time she's on a team where she's not the best player. It's a humbling experience, sitting on the sidelines and not playing for the first time in her life, but she's happy."

Tamari Miyashiro's only concern was how to tell her parents -- both college athletes, father Gordon having played football at Northern Michigan -- that she probably wouldn't be playing this season. She and McLaughlin had discussions about it and she saw the opportunity of redshirting as an extra year of growth.

But if Thompson were to be injured, there is no question she is ready to step in for her roommate. Miyashiro knows all the plays and sets the Huskies' second team in practice.

"No problem," she said. "I'm ready."

McLaughlin has no doubts.

"She's understands the game and I enjoy talking to her after matches," McLaughlin said. "Her feedback is very good.

"Physically, she is talented, but I really like her attitude."

Originally, Miyashiro thought about going to Oral Roberts and UT-San Antonio, the latter team coached by former UH assistant Howard Wallace. There were thoughts of Hawaii as well, although it would have been as a walk-on. "We didn't have a scholarship for Tamari," Wahine coach Dave Shoji said. "She's a good volleyball player. I don't know what our plans for her would have been. We would have evaluated her if she had been here."

UW came into the recruiting game late but didn't promise a scholarship initially. McLaughlin was waiting to see if All-American Sanja Tomasevic would be granted an extra year of eligibility due to the war in her in native Serbia-Montenegro that delayed her college enrollment.

Tomasevic ended up with another year and Miyashiro eventually ended up with some financial aid from UW.

The transition has been fairly smooth for Miyashiro. It has helped to have another player from Hawaii on the team.

Ashley Aratani (Iolani '03) is a sophomore defensive specialist who has played in 16 of the team's 27 games, with three aces and four digs. There were several times in the two matches with Hawaii last week that there were three former Raiders players from the class of '03 on the court: Aratani, Kamana'o and Wahine DS Raeceen Woolford, who all played on the 2001 state championship team.

"Ashley's doing well," McLaughlin said. "She's very good defensively, gets to the ball well. We've asked her to work on her passing. We want her to be great at it.

"She's one of the neatest kids I've ever coached. And we share a love of surfing. I grew up surfing in Malibu and when I was at UC Santa Barbara. I can usually find her reading a surfing magazine."

Around the WAC

Miyashiro would have also gotten a trip home this season had she gone with her other choice: Utah State. The Aggies joined the Western Athletic Conference this season and will be at the Stan Sheriff Center on Oct. 20.

Coach Burt Fuller does have Monarisa Ale (Kahuku '04) on the roster. The 5-11 sophomore has been used at both middle and opposite.

"Monarisa is just a complete volleyball player, a typical Hawaiian volleyball player with great court presence, well-skilled, positive and motivating on the court," Fuller said. "She's always up, always smiling. She makes good volleyball plays.

"She's a complete package."

Ale has played in eight of the team's 13 matches and is averaging 1.74 kills, 1.47 digs and 0.94 blocks per game with four aces.

Fuller hopes the move to the WAC will attract other players from Hawaii.

"We are looking at more kids from there. I can't say who," he said. "Obviously for kids who have desires to get off the island but play somewhere that has a trip home to Hawaii every year is attractive."

Three other island players should be making trips back to Hawaii this season as WAC opponents.

On the Fresno State roster are La'akea Campbell (Iolani '02) and Mounia Nihipali (Kamehameha '04) and at Nevada is Arkansas-Little Rock transfer Randi Salis (Kamehameha '03).

Campbell, a 5-10 senior, has started six of the seven matches she's played in for the 2-8 Bulldogs. She is averaging 2.04 kills, 2.17 digs and 0.48 kills per game with a team-leading 10 aces.

Nihipali, a 5-10 sophomore hitter, has started five of seven matches. She is leading the team in kills (3.30 kpg).

Salis transferred in the spring from UALR, where she played all 30 matches with 300 digs, second on the team with a 2.63 average. She has not played for the Wolf Pack and may redshirt.


Lecca Roberts (Seabury Hall '04) is the starting middle blocker for Pepperdine, where she is second on the team in kills (3.11 kpg) and blocks (1.11). She was named the MVP of the Pepperdine Classic earlier this month after leading the Waves past No. 22 Colorado State.

Also starting for the Waves is 5-6 junior libero Kekai Crabbe (Kamehameha '03), who is fourth on the team in digs (2.29 dpg) and second in assists (0.61 apg).

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