POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 3:33 p.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010
Third-ranked Hawaii starts its final regular-season volleyball road trip at Fresno State tonight. The Rainbow Wahine could return with their 15th Western Athletic Conference regular-season title in as many tries, a school-record for consecutive sets won and its five 2011 recruits signed, sealed and delivered in January and August.
UH received a letter of intent from Kamehameha-Maui hitter Ginger Long yesterday, the first day high school seniors could commit for the fall. The four other recruits all orally committed months ago, and the school is waiting for their letters. Coach Dave Shoji cannot comment on recruits until the letters are received.
Jane Croson headlines the class of five, which also includes setter Monica Stauber and middles Jade Vorster and Kalei Adolpho. Four of the players have Hawaii ties and the fifth, Vorster, who is 6 feet 4, will graduate next month and enroll in January. She can participate in the Wahine's spring training. Adolpho, Molokai's versatile 6-1 star, will receive a basketball scholarship and play both sports.
Croson, a 6-foot hitter from Lakewood, Calif., was part of the winning FIVB Youth Beach World and NORCECA Women's Junior Continental championship teams this summer. She and Summer Ross are the first Americans to win the beach title, or even reach the semifinals. Croson was MVP on the junior national team at NORCECA, leading the tournament with more than five kills a set and .400 hitting.
Stauber, whose grandfather was born and raised on Kauai, played on Wahine freshman Emily Hartong's club team. The Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.) setter came to a Hawaii volleyball camp after her freshman year and "fell in love" with the place.
"I visited other schools after that," Stauber said by phone this week, "but never got the same feeling that I did in Hawaii. It was a really welcoming community, very close."
At 5-8, Stauber's talent is not confined to setting. She is open to playing libero or defensive specialist, or "anything to get time on the court" next year.
Molokai gave the Maui Interscholastic League its first Hawaii state volleyball championship last month, capturing the Division II title and going unbeaten in Adolpho's final season. The senior had 16 kills and 14 digs in the Farmers' four-set victory over three-time defending state D-II champion Hawaii Baptist in a semifinal.
Long, who is 5-11, was MIL player of the year last season.
"She is a high-energy, dynamic, fast player that I really like," Shoji said. "I think fans will really like her. She has good skills."
Hawaii opens its trip at Fresno State's Save Mart Center tonight at 5 p.m., Hawaii time. The Wahine (23-1, 12-0 WAC), who have won their last 18, can clinch the regular-season title and No. 1 seed at the WAC tournament with wins tonight and Saturday at San Jose State, or with a win and a New Mexico State loss.
UH is attempting to finish the conference season without the loss of a set for the first time. It has an NCAA-best 37-match regular-season conference winning streak and has swept all its WAC opponents this season, winning its past 47 sets overall. The school record is 54 in a row, set in 2002.
The Wahine close this trip Sunday at Nevada, then return for their final home match, which is Nov. 18 against Idaho.
» Junior Corinne Cascioppo, who has dealt with medical issues since the preseason, will not play this year.
» Sophomore Brittany Hewitt still leads the country in blocking, at 1.74 a set. Hewitt is also 37th in hitting (.369). Kanani Danielson is 11th in kills (4.44) and 14th in points (5.06), while Dani Mafua is 33rd in assists (10.91) and Elizabeth Ka'aihue 94th in digs (4.55).
» As a team, Hawaii is in the top 50 in blocks (11th at 2.81), hitting (16th at .279), kills (20th at 14.19), assists (22nd at 13.2) and aces (49th at 1.51), but 167th in digs (14.69).
» Ka'aihue could come back third in career digs. She currently has 1,296 -- 19 behind Tara Hittle.
» Hawaii remains No. 1 in attendance, averaging 6,136 fans in its 19 home matches. Nebraska is next at 4,881. FSU, tonight's opponent, is 43rd, at 871.