POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2012
If Emily Hartong keeps accomplishing the improbable for ninth-ranked Hawaii, the volleyball awards might run out before her right arm.
Tuesday, the junior became the first Rainbow Wahine in six years to be recognized as Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week. The second-team All-American averaged nearly seven kills a set in Hawaii’s road wins last week, earning Big West Conference Player of the Week honors for the third time this season.
Hartong’s 62 kills, including a career-high 33 against Long Beach State, and 31 digs were not her most compelling numbers.
With Jane Croson out the past seven matches, Hawaii has set Hartong relentlessly. Its attack is beyond predictable, allowing blockers to shadow Hartong everywhere she goes. Still, she hit nearly .300 last week, and lived to talk about a trip where she took 158 swings in wins at Long Beach State and UC Irvine.
“So far she has been a wind-up toy, wind her up and let her go,” said UH coach Dave Shoji, who moved Hartong from the middle to the outside this year, and could switch her from left side to right this week. “She’s durable and gets better as the game goes on. … She seems to get stronger as everyone else gets tired. She’s in tremendous shape.”
Hartong’s five fifth-set kills Saturday at Irvine proved his point, and proved to be the difference. This week, when Hawaii hosts UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and Cal Poly on Saturday, more help could be on the way.
>> Thursday: 7 p.m., No. 9 Hawaii (19-2, 12-0 Big West) vs. UC Santa Barbara (13-12, 6-4)
As of Tuesday, Jane Croson had one more obligation to fulfill before getting cleared to play. She has been on suspension since the beginning of the month, for breaking unspecified team rules. But Croson came back to practice last week and could be cleared to play by today. She averages just under four kills and, despite missing seven matches, still has 125 more hitting attempts than any Wahine aside from Hartong.
Shoji, whose team is in the midst of an NCAA-best 67-match conference winning streak, is not apologizing for piling on Hartong.
“This is not AYSO soccer,” he said. “You don’t set left-middle-right, left-middle-right, you set the person who can get you the kill. You want to be fairly balanced, but when the chips are down, Hartong’s getting the ball. It was the same thing last year with Kanani (Danielson).”
Hartong leads the Big West, and is eighth nationally, at 4.6 kills a set. Career highs in kills and digs — twice — last week gave her six double-doubles this year.
Freshman Tai Manu-Olevao, activated when Croson was suspended, injured her ankle in practice Tuesday but is expected back on a limited basis today.
Hawaii remained 18th in the NCAA power ranking. Stanford, which lost to Hawaii in August, is No. 1 and among five Pac-12 teams in the top 14.
Shoji said he figures his team has one shot at a top-16 seeding and staying home for an NCAA subregional.
“I think we have to win out, and if we do I think we’re deserving,” he said. “We have a win over the
No. 1 RPI team in the country. That has to help us.”
>> Three freshmen lead Big West statistics, with Hawaii’s Jade Vorster first in hitting (.382), UCSB’s Taylor Formico in digs (5.92) and UC Riverside’s Emily Borges in assists (10.6). The Wahine lead the league in hitting (.268) by 48 points and are also first in assists and kills, and second in blocks (2.60). All those marks are top 40 nationally.