A frantic and fantastic start to the 2010 volleyball season fizzled and then reformed last night as fifth-ranked Hawaii held off 22nd-ranked San Diego in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational.
After a quiet start, Kanani Danielson, the Rainbow Wahine’s quiet All-American, put the Wahine on her back in the final two sets to salvage a 25-14, 22-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-9 win.
In contrast, teammate Brittany Hewitt had an incredibly hot start to her sophomore season in front of 4,790 at Stan Sheriff Center. She blocked six balls in the opening set, tied her career high with her 11th stuff early in Set 3 and finished with a UH rally-scoring record of 16.
Transfer Chanteal Satele, who averaged less than a third of a block per set for Saint Mary’s last year, was right beside her with a career-high 12 blocks.
"She’s an amazing end blocker," Hewitt said of Satele, who added 14 kills.
"She closes it," Satele shot back at Hewitt. "She’s a wall."
But it took Danielson and a lineup change to bring back the Hawaii attack after San Diego’s senior-laden lineup adjusted quickly following its first-set flameout. The Toreros, picked to win the West Coast Conference this season, sent three blockers after Danielson and put two on Hewitt, who was 7-for-19 in the first two sets, but got just four more swings the rest of the night.
UH freshman Michelle Waber debuted by going 4-for-6 in the opening set, but was shut out in the next two. UH hit a combined .000 for those sets (18 kills, 18 errors) and coach Dave Shoji moved freshman Emily Hartong from the middle to the left for Sets 4 and 5.
Hawaii settled down, dug in on defense, and helped Danielson work her magic.
"We set Kanani more," Shoji said of his team’s simplest adjustment. "We don’t want to use her unless we have to. If we use her too much, she’ll get worn down. We’re trying to spread the sets around. But when you’re down 2-1 you better go to your best player."
Danielson had seven kills through three sets, but went 11-for-18 in the last two, with three stuffs. The final set started with the first of her six kills, followed by two aces from Hewitt, who didn’t even serve last season.
The Wahine clung to their advantage the rest of the night. They clinched it by scoring four straight points, to go up 13-7, with Alex Griffiths serving. At that stage the all-small backrow — defensive specialists Griffiths, Emily Maeda and libero Elizabeth Ka’aihue — was fully intact.
They didn’t let a ball hit the floor and Danielson just kept burying them on the other side.
"I would hate to be on the opposite side of the net," Hewitt said. "She did a good job of pulling herself out of whatever was going on."
In the first match, 16th-ranked UCLA fought off set point in the opener, then pulled away from Kansas State, 26-24, 25-18, 25-19. The Wildcats hit .064 for the match, with the Bruins 101 points higher.
UCLA got 10 kills from Dicey McGraw, their only starting senior. Sophomore Rachael Kidder came in to go 9-for-12. K-State senior JuliAnne Chisholm had a match-high 14 kills and 18 digs.
Hawaii plays Kansas State at approximately 7 p.m. tonight, after the UCLA-San Diego opener at 5 p.m.
Shoji, in his 35th year, hopes his team is a bit more consistent. What did he tell his team after last night’s freaky Friday?
"He told us we’re pushing him to his grave a little bit sooner than he would like," Hewitt said.
UH junior reserve Corinne Cascioppo was not in uniform yesterday. She sat on the bench for violating a team rule.
C’era Oliveira, a freshman out of Hawaii Baptist, started at libero for USD and finished with 12 digs.
Former Rainbow Wahine Tara Hittle leaves Wednesday to play professional volleyball in Switzerland.
NO. 5 Hawaii def. no. 22 San Diego 25-14, 22-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-9
Toreros (0-1, 0-1 CRWI)
Rainbow Wahine (1-0, 1-0 CRWI)
Key — s: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills plus blocks plus aces)
Aces — USD (3): DeGroot, Myers, Troost. Hawaii (6): Hewitt 2, Ka’aihue 2, Mafua, Satele. Service Errors — USD (15): Troost 4, Anderson 2, DeGroot 2, Myers 2, Oliveira 2, Tatsch 2, Alvey. Hawaii (19): Hartong 6, Danielson 4, Hewitt 2, Mafua 2, Satele 2, Griffiths, Ka’aihue, Maeda. Assists — USD (42): Myers 39, Basch, DeGroot, Oliveira. Hawaii (50): Mafua 44, Ka’aihue 3, Danielson 2, Waber. T — 2:22. Officials — Wayne Lee, Dickson Chun. A — 4, 790.