Right side is the wild side for Rainbow Wahine volleyball, as it has been for a few years now.
Last year’s starter, Stephanie Ferrell, transferred to Florida for her final two years. Her departure leaves Hawaii without one of its most imposing players and someone who played closest to her potential in the postseason. Even with that, Ferrell hit just .196 last year and barely averaged a third of a block.
It is imperative the Wahine bulk up at the position opposite the setter, or at least become more consistent. A year ago their four other hitters were among the conference’s top five in hitting percentage.
Chanteal Satele is the most likely candidate to start, with freshman Kaela Goodman closing fast. Corinne Cascioppo might be the wild card — or would that be versatile freshman middle blocker Emily Hartong? — with the look and size of a pure right side but no evidence yet to support her stature. Cascioppo hit .108 in an extremely limited role last season after transferring from Mesa State.
Satele is the most dynamic and experienced, by far. She hammers the ball hard and loud, much like her mother — Lee Ann (Pestana) Satele — did for Hawaii in the early ’80s. An all-state hitter for Word of Life, she helped Saint Mary’s to the NCAA Tournament the past two years, earning honorable mention and West Coast Conference all-freshman honors.
"Chanteal is probably the strongest of the three physically," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "She hits the ball harder than the other two. What’s separating her now is the pace she can put on the ball."
Added associate coach Scott Wong, who was at University of San Francisco last season: "I’ve seen her play a lot. She’s got one of the most pure armswings. She’s got a fast arm and hits the ball really well. That’s something hard to teach. It’s genetic. According to Dave, Lee Ann had the same arm."
Genetics are clearly on Satele’s side. Father Alvis played for UH and in the NFL and CFL. Brothers Brashton and Liko, and cousins Samson and Hercules Satele and Melila Purcell have followed in his cleat steps.
Not surprisingly, finesse is not one of Chanteal’s best features. Her ball-control skills could keep her away from the left side — and more sets — and the coaches are making major changes to her blocking style.
Goodman could also play left side but is more suited for the right, so far. Shoji says she is "improving faster than probably anyone on the team" and calls her the best "all-around player" of the right sides. Her jump — she reached the California state high school high jump finals — makes her block the best part of her game.
Her biggest challenge is coping with the pace of the college game and enhancing her ball control. Goodman, No. 55 on the prepvolleyball.com Senior Aces list, played just three rotations in club volleyball.
Cascioppo has the potential of putting up the biggest block on the right, which is probably the position’s most critical skill. She also averaged three kills a set at Mesa, but coaches here are constantly working with her to get her feet to the ball. She has started slowly, already missing some practices with what Shoji calls "conditioning" issues.
"She has the capabilities of being a good blocker and attacker," Shoji said, "but she’s not in good enough physical condition to take advantage of some of her talent."
A player with Satele’s arm, the realization of Cascioppo’s blocking potential and Goodman’s physical versatility might be ideal, but there is no cloning. The Wahine might not know who starts on the right until the season opener Aug. 27. Whoever it is will have at least two pairs of footsteps close behind.
Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational
Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic
Verizon Wireless Volleyball Challenge