Wahine ease into WAC tourney semis


POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008

Hawaii may be seeded No. 2 this week, but the Rainbow Wahine know they are the ones with the targets on their backs. After all, they are the 13-time defending Western Athletic Conference volleyball champions and winners of the past eight WAC tournaments.









Boise State0



        NEXT UP
vs. Idaho today



Except for a rather shaky start in Set 3 last night—down 8-0 and 10-1—sixth-ranked Hawaii looked more than capable of keeping those streaks alive.

Going from target to target practice, the Wahine swept into tonight's 7:30 quarterfinal against third-seeded Idaho with a 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 victory over seventh-seeded Boise State. A Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 3,464 (4,115 tickets) saw the tag team of senior Jamie Houston and freshman Kanani Danielson bomb away from the outside for 12 kills each while Amber Kaufman and Aneli Cubi-Otineru added 10 kills apiece after 81 minutes. It was the first time this year that the Wahine had four players with double-digit kills.





WAC Tournament

        At Stan Sheriff Center
(Seedings in parenthesis)
» Fresno State (8) def. Louisiana Tech (9), 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19


» Idaho (3) def. Nevada (6), 25-20, 25-21, 25-18
» San Jose State (5) def. Utah State (4), 16-25, 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 15-8
» New Mexico State (1) def. Fresno State (8), 25-17, 25-17 25-22
» Hawaii (2) def. Boise State (7) 25-15, 25-16, 25-17


Today's semifinals
» New Mexico State (1) vs. San Jose State (5), 5 p.m.
» Hawaii (2) vs. Idaho (3), 7 p.m.


» Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.



Hawaii (24-3) puts its 11-match winning streak on the line against third-seeded Idaho (19-9) in tonight's second semifinal. The Vandals swept sixth-seeded Nevada 25-20, 25-21, 25-18 earlier yesterday.

Remaining on a collision course with the Wahine is top-seeded New Mexico State (22-7), which won its 13th in a row, 25-17, 25-17, 25-22, against Fresno State. The Aggies take on fifth-seeded San Jose State (13-16), which outlasted fourth-seeded Utah State, 16-25, 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 15-8.

“;Except for the start of Game 3, we played really well,”; Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. “;I thought Stephanie Brandt did a nice job running the offense. The main thing was to expend as little energy as possible and be ready for Idaho.”;

Hawaii seemed to have no energy when coming out of the break, quickly falling behind 8-0 and 10-1.

“;We weren't worried, we knew we could come back,”; UH senior libero Tara Hittle said. “;At that point everything was going their way. We knew it couldn't last.”;

As quickly as the Wahine fell in a hole, they dug themselves out. Steady play and four kills by Danielson helped Hawaii tie it at 15. The Wahine closed it out with a 10-2 run, punctuated by Houston's last kill.

“;It was fun, a flashback for me to last year,”; said Brandt, starting in place of an injured Dani Mafua for the first time this season. “;We got pumped up in that third game.”;

It was a bit deflating for the Broncos, (9-19) who saw their season ended by Hawaii for the second straight year.

“;You don't want to see Hawaii at Hawaii,”; Broncos coach Robin Davis said. “;They are powerful. With their serving, they can take anyone down on a given night. We don't match up with their serving.

“;A lack of defense is what hurt us the most ... And I'll say it again, Danielson is their best player.”;

Sadie Maughan and Jeanette Jenkins led the Broncos with five kills each. Boise State outblocked Hawaii 10-7, with five of those blocks coming in Set 3.


New Mexico State 3, Fresno State 0

Lindsay Yon had a team-high 11 kills and the Aggies outblocked the Bulldogs 8-2 in the 77-minute sweep.

“;I felt like we were a little rusty, which typically happens in the first round of the tournament,”; NMSU coach Mike Jordan said. “;We were very average defensively. We know we can do better.”;

Libero Krystal Torres led the Aggies with 14 of the team's 45 digs.


San Jose State 3, Utah State 2

The Aggies' stay began with the entire team (minus coach Grayson DuBose) stuck in an elevator for an hour on the way to Wednesday's pre-tournament banquet.

Yesterday, it ended in deja vu fashion as Utah State was eliminated by the Spartans in five for the second consecutive year. It was less of an upset yesterday, with the fifth seed beating the fourth seed; last year, Utah State was No. 3 and San Jose State No. 6.


Idaho 3, Nevada 0

The Vandals (19-9) got a balanced attack, led by Sarah Conwell (12 kills) and Haley Larsen (10) to sweep the Wolf Pack (12-15) in 82 minutes.

Idaho had defeated Nevada previously 3-2 and 3-1 and “;this is the best we've handled them,”; Vandals coach Debbie Buchanan said. “;We've gotten better as the season has gone on.

“;We've been planning on seeing Hawaii. We have to do what we do well. Pass well, block well and bring our offense.”;

“;Realistically we played well,”; Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said.


Fresno State 3, LaTech 1

The match lasted nearly 2 hours, with the Bulldogs rewarded with a quarterfinal against New Mexico State some 5 hours later.

Lacey Gera put down a match-high 20 kills for Fresno State.

Hawaii def. Boise State

25-15, 25-16, 25-17
BRONCOS (9-19)








Rainbow Wahine (24-3)



Key—s: sets played; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills + blocks + aces)

Aces—Boise State none. Hawaii (4): Kaufman 2, Cubi-Otineru, Lee. Assists—Boise State (19): Klein 15, King 2, Remy 2. Hawaii (47): Brandt 45, Ka'aihue 2.

T—1:21. Officials—Kent Kitade, Margie Ray. A—4,115.