Mello relishes her playing time


POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unsure of her college opportunities, Dawna Mello sent out a bunch of applications hoping at least one would be accepted.

It wound up being as easy as a layup drill. Mello went 12-for-12.

Ultimately, Whitman (Wash.) University won the services of the 2006 Hilo graduate, who is in the middle of her final season on the Missionaries' women's basketball team.

“;I applied to so many schools because I was so scared I wouldn't get in,”; Mello said. “;My second choice was Eastern (Oregon), where my brother went to school, but my coach here (at Whitman) is such a nice person and so helpful, it made it an easier choice to choose Whitman.”;

Mello, a 5-foot-5 point guard, is averaging a career-high 25.3 minutes this season after earning a starting spot in the backcourt. For three years, she has played behind talented players, but an injury to Jenele Peterson, a returning all-conference player, opened the door for more playing time for Mello.





        School: Whitman (Wash.) University

Class: Senior


Height: 5-foot-5


Position: Guard


High school: Hilo


Class: Senior




“;I would say (Peterson) is the best point guard in our conference, so it really sucks she's missing the season with a torn ACL because she's really good,”; Mello said.

The Missionaries have struggled without her to a 2-6 record in Northwest Conference play, but three of those loses have been by three points or less.

One defeat came by two points 12 days ago against Puget Sound, which features senior guard Natasha Ludwig, a 2006 Waiakea graduate that Mello grew up playing against.

“;It seems like there's a lot of girls I played against (in high school) playing in this conference,”; Mello said.

NWC teams recruit Hawaii heavily as at least four member schools feature women's basketball players with local ties.

The Missionaries advanced to the conference tournament once in Mello's previous three seasons. Although Whitman is currently on the outside looking in this year, the team's struggles haven't dampened her senior year.

“;Every year it seemed like we had the team that could make it, but the little things couldn't come together,”; Mello said. “;Whatever happens, basketball has been a big part of my life here and the experiences and friendships I've made with teammates and coaches has really been great.”;

The simple fact that Mello has made it this far in her college career is an accomplishment that was at one time in serious doubt.

“;When I first came here, I was so scared that I actually thought I wouldn't make it,”; she said. “;I know everyone says they go through it, but I really thought I wasn't going to last.

“;A lot of the seniors on the basketball team helped me get through things and now I feel it's my turn to try to turn around and be the same kind of mentor to the new girls now.”;

At one time, Mello was planning on going into sports psychology and athletic training, but a newfound interest in physical therapy might be the new career course for the psychology major.

“;Life is catching up to me and I've got to start figuring everything out before I get stuck in the real world,”; she said.

Fortunately, she still has a few months left to enjoy the college lifestyle.


Kabalis headed for Pullman

Former Moanalua standout Kaleinani Kabalis will transfer to Washington State after playing at Western Nebraska Community College.

Kabalis committed to the Cougars last week after visiting the Pullman, Wash., campus.

A 5-foot-7 outside hitter, Kabalis finished with 1,089 kills and 790 digs in two seasons at WNCC.

Kabalis earned first team NJCAA All-America honors last year and was selected as the top defensive player at the national tournament in November. She had 68 digs in four matches at nationals, including a 25-dig performance against Frank Phillips and a 23-dig outing against Missouri State-West Plains.

According to a release from WNCC, Kabalis was also considering Kansas State, Ohio State and Boise State.




» Brigham Young sophomore middle blocker Futi Tavana (Kauai '05) had 11 kills, six block assists and hit .600 in a four-set victory over then-No. 3 Stanford on Friday.

Sophomore Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08) had 19 kills and Spencer McLachlin (Punahou '07) had 16 kills for the Cardinal, who bounced back with a four-set win over the Cougars on Saturday.

Lawson had a team-high 22 kills in that match and hit .439. Senior setter Kawika Shoji ('Iolani '06) dished out 60 assists and sophomore libero Erik Shoji (Punahou '08) led the team with 13 digs.

» Southern California junior setter Riley McKibbin (Punahou '07) had 51 assists and six digs and outside hitter Tri Bourne (Academy of the Pacific '07) had 11 kills and hit .368 for the Trojans in a three-game sweep of UC San Diego on Friday.

Senior Will Ehrman (Punahou '06) played for the Tritons but had hitting errors on his only two kill attempts in the match.


» Idaho sophomore guard Shaena Kuehu (Punahou '08) was held to 3-for-12 shooting and finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in a 58-53 loss to San Jose State on Saturday.

Freshman Kanisha Bello (Waiakea '09) chipped in five points in 9 minutes off the bench.

» Cal State Northridge junior Analee Viena-Lota (Kamehameha '07) shot 5-for-12 from the field and finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists in a 73-60 loss to Cal Poly on Saturday.

Forward Violet Alama (Kalani '09) chipped in six points, four rebounds and four blocks and Janelle Nomura (Punahou '09) had six points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench for the Matadors.

» Puget Sound senior Natasha Ludwig (Waiakea '06) had seven point and 11 rebounds in a 67-58 win over Pacific (Ore.) on Friday. She had seven points and 10 boards in a wn over Lewis & Clark a day later.

» UNLV sophomore Jamie Smith ('Iolani '08) was held to five points and seven rebounds before fouling out in a 77-76 win over Air Force on Tuesday.

Smith had 15 points and 13 rebounds in an 81-61 loss to TCU, which outscored the Rebels by 27 in the second half, on Saturday.

» Willamette junior Keilyn Fujioka ('Iolani '06) scored a team-high 18 points in a 62-47 loss to Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday.

Fujioka added seven rebounds, five blocks and two assists and shot 9-for-19 from the field.


» Lewis & Clark senior Tyler Tsukazaki (Maryknoll '06) had eight points four rebounds, two assists, two steals and no turnovers in a 85-82 win over Puget Sound on Saturday.

After starting 1-3 in league play, the Pioneers have won three of their last four games to get to .500 at 4-4 in the Northwest Conference.

Tsukazaki is fourth on the team, averaging 8.5 points per game.


» Loyola Marymount freshman Noelani Vargas (Hawaii Prep '09) swam a leg in the 400-medley relay for the Lions, who finished second to San Diego in a meet on Saturday.

Vargas also placed sixth in the 200 backstroke and seventh in the 100 backstroke.

Lions senior Mallorie Lim ('Iolani '06) placed seventh in the 100 butterfly and ninth in the 200 butterfly.

San Diego senior Laura Pope (Lahainaluna '06) placed ninth in the 100 breaststroke.


» Washington senior defensive end Daniel Teo-Nesheim (Hawaii Prep '05) finished with two quarterback hurries in the East-West Shrine Bowl on Saturday. The East beat the West 13-10.

» California senior Tyson Alualu (Saint Louis '05) is competing in this week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Alualu, who plays both inside and outside on the defensive line, will suit up for the North squad.