Wahine move on to sweet 16


POSTED: Sunday, December 07, 2008

LOS ANGELES » Checkmate.

For every move that USC made last night, Hawaii had a better one.

For every move that the Rainbow Wahine made, the Women of Troy rarely had a counter.

That's why No. 6 Hawaii is moving on in the NCAA volleyball tournament and No. 12 USC is staying home. The Rainbow Wahine (30-3) reached the 30-win mark for the 17th time in their history with a “;monumental”; 17th consecutive victory.

The 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 win at USC was as stunning in its brevity—85 minutes—as Hawaii's efficiency. Led by junior middle Amber Kaufman's career-high .714 hitting percentage and double-digit kills from senior hitter Jamie Houston (17), freshman hitter Kanani Danielson (13) and Kaufman (10), the Rainbow Wahine earned a regional spot for the 10th time in 11 seasons.

And, for the second time in five years, Hawaii is headed to Fort Collins, Colo. The seventh-seeded Wahine will meet 10 seed Purdue (26-8) in a semifinal Friday, a rematch of a second-round contest from 2004. In the other semifinal, No. 2 seed Stanford (28-3) takes on 15th-seeded Florida (27-3).

With host Colorado State eliminated—via a sweep at Florida—Moby Arena may be as empty as the Galen Center last night. A pro-Hawaii crowd of 1,019 saw the Wahine hand the Women of Troy (17-12) their third home loss of the season.

“;This is a monumental win for our program,”; Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. “;For us to beat as talented a team as SC is big.

“;The draw was not particularly good for any of the teams in this sub-regional, but we didn't complain about it. We knew what we had to do. Our players were unbelievable, did everything we asked them to do. Right now, we want to really enjoy this win.”;

So focused was Hawaii that no travel plans had been made by last night. Shoji said the team likely will stay in Los Angeles before giving senior libero Tara Hittle an early Christmas with a trip to her native Colorado.

“;It was a great game to watch,”; said Wahine sophomore Elizabeth Ka'aihue, who made brief appearances in two sets. “;That was good volleyball out there.”;

It was worth the 4-hour drive from Las Vegas for Kari Gregory, one of several former and future Wahine in attendance.

“;I had to come,”; said Gregory, who finished her eligibility last season.

Also in attendance were former Wahine Jen Carey and Diana Sebastian Pestolesi as was Carson High senior Kristiana Tuaniga, who has signed to play for Hawaii next year.

How good was it? As good as the connection between Kaufman and setter Dani Mafua.

“;I told (Mafua) at practice that we were going to have a big game tomorrow,”; said Kaufman, who had 10 kills with no errors in 14 attempts. “;Angelica Ljungquist came to one of our practices (last week) and she said that by the end of her senior year that she and Robyn (setter Ah Mow) were telepathic. I think me and Dani are starting to get some of that. It was butter.”;

Hawaii's offense was smooth, while USC had trouble. The only one having success for most of the night was hitter Alex Jupiter (12 kills, six coming in Set 1).

Junior Jessica Gysin, who averaged 3.16 kps entering the match, didn't get out of negative hitting percentage until Set 3. Her ninth and final kill brought USC to within 19-18, but that was as close as the Women of Troy would come.

Danielson continued her spectacular defense—15 digs for her eighth double-double—and Houston just took over. The senior pounded down three kills to give the Wahine match point; Danielson ended it with her 13th.

“;I think some freshmen have nerves in these kinds of matches, but Kanani didn't play like a freshman,”; Shoji said, upping his career record to 983-171-1. “;She played like a veteran.

“;I had a feeling we'd have a lot of green in the stands tonight, and we did. It felt like a home game because every time we did something good, we felt a lot of energy from the crowd.”;

Hurting the gate the most was the conflict with the earlier football game between UCLA and USC at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The lack of a crowd was the least of the disappointments for USC coach Mick Haley.

“;I thought we underachieved,”; said Haley, whose team lost to Stanford in the NCAA championship semifinal last December. “;We started to play a little better in the third. We didn't defend as well as we know we can.

“;I wish Hawaii a lot of luck. We thought we had a good shot at winning this regional and I think they have a good chance to win it.”;


Hawaii def. USC

25-21, 25-18, 25-22

























































































































































Trojans (17-12)




Hawaii (30-3)

g k e att pct d bs ba pts
Kaufman 3 10 0 14 .714 2 0 2 12.0
Danielson 3 13 4 29 .310 15 1 2 15.0
Houston 3 17 6 33 .333 8 0 1 19.5
Thomas 3 2 2 7 .000 0 0 2 3.0
Mafua 3 0 1 2 -.500 8 0 0 3.0
Cubi-Otineru 3 6 4 16 .125 5 0 2 7.0
Hittle 3 0 0 0 .000 7 0 0 0
Keefe 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0
Ka'aihue 2 0 0 0 .000 1 0 0 0
Brandt 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0
Totals 3 48 17 101 .307 46 1 9 59.5

p> Key—g: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills + blocks + aces)
Aces—USC: none. Hawaii (6): Mafua 3, Houston 2, Kaufman. Assists—USC(34): Bateman 16, Carico 11, Gysin 2, Roleder 2, Hillgren 2, Urango. Hawaii (45): Mafua 43, Thomas, Cubi-Otineru. T—1:25. Officials—N/A. A—1,019.