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2013 SEASON PREVIEW // WAHINE VOLLEYBALL


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Sizing up each position

Dave Shoji’s ratings

By Ann Miller

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 09:23 p.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013

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SETTER

Coach Dave Shoji’s ranking is based almost solely on senior Mita Uiato, an all-region setter who is comfortable — and precise — pouring the ball anywhere on the court. She plays at a Kona Coffee level, blessed with great hands and a better block than her size would indicate. Freshmen Tayler Higgins and Kyra Goodman provide a balanced backup. Goodman might offer the most acidity in the  front row, but Higgins’ defensive skills blend well in back.

Mita Uiato 5-8 Sr.
Tayler Higgins 5-9 Fr.
Kyra Goodman 5-11 Fr.

 

MIDDLE BLOCKER

Lack of consistency could be a problem again, but at least coach Dave Shoji knows what brew he is getting. “Each of our middles … what you see is what you get,” he says. “They are working hard on improving, but it is not going to be a real strong point of ours.” He is not saying the middles come without a kick. Jade Vorster rose to the top of the Big West last season and Kalei Adolpho and Kristiana Tuaniga are two of the team’s most gifted athletes. It might be a matter of the proper extraction.

Kalei Adolpho 6-1 Jr.
Kristiana Tuaniga 6-1 Sr.
Jade Vorster 6-4 So.
Listed alphabetically

LIBERO / DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST

Shoji is high on Hawaii’s defense on the left and in the middle, but the right side is a bit green. That is all that prevents him from judging this brew at the highest level. Individually, Ali Longo gives the Wahine a distinctive presence at libero. A wealth of defensive specialists add complexity, with specialists for serving, passing, reliability and flat-out digging.

LIBERO
Ali Longo 5-6 Sr.
Kayla Kawamura 5-4 So.
DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS
Tayler Higgins 5-9 Fr.
Courtney Lelepali 5-7 Sr.
Ginger Long 5-11 So.
Kayla Kawamura 5-4 So.
Sarah Mendoza 5-5 Jr.
Katiana Ponce 5-3 Fr.
Listed alphabetically

LEFT-SIDE HITTER

In All-American Emily Hartong, Hawaii has the espresso of hitters — a senior with a bite so memorable a little goes a long way. No one else has come close to matching her strength and smooth finish offensively, but the quality of the passing has been a mild surprise. Whoever complements her needs a high-grade hitting percentage and strong finish. The question is, are Tai Manu-Olevao and/or Ashley Kastl robust enough this year?

Emily Hartong 6-2 Sr.
Tai Manu-Olevao 6-0 So.
Ashley Kastl 6-0 Sr.
Ginger Long 5-11 So.
Nikki Taylor 6-3 Fr.

RIGHT-SIDE HITTER

The dilemma here is that no one has dominated, leaving the Wahine with choices that range from tall to vente and delicate to complex. On the bright side, the options in the back row offer a taste of everything. Tai Manu-Olevao showed signs of being the right blend last season. If Kaela Goodman’s hitting can catch up to her blocking she could provide a fine finish.

Tai Manu-Olevao 6-0 So.
Kaela Goodman 6-1 Sr.
Nikki Taylor 6-3 Fr.
Ginger Long 5-11 So.





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