All the anxiety and angst of Hawaii’s last match melted during last night’s 73-minute sweep of San Diego State in the 16th annual Verizon Wireless Rainbow Wahine Volleyball Challenge.
Before 3,127 at Stan Sheriff Center (5,157 tickets issued), sixth-ranked Hawaii went to senior All-American Kanani Danielson early and often in a 25-17, 25-18, 25-13 victory.
It was the Wahine’s 43rd consecutive win against an unranked opponent, and it was a total smackdown.
"We were awful," said SDSU coach Deitre Collins-Parker, who led Hawaii to the 1982 and ’83 NCAA titles. "We haven’t played this bad this year."
The former Olympian is the most dominant and decorated player in program history. Which is why she often dreams of jumping on the court to help her team, particularly in a place as familiar and friendly to her as Hawaii.
"The hardest thing about coaching is that I’m not in control," Collins said. "The great thing about playing is I was in control of me. I knew I could do it when I needed it done. And my teammates could. It’s hard trying to teach that to young players."
She has 11 new players in her second year. The Aztecs are one of three Division I teams with nine true freshmen (the others are top-ranked Penn State and South Carolina). Despite last night, she believes "in what my team will be."
"I’m disappointed in my team first because we didn’t get better tonight and that’s our goal," Collins said. "And two, because some of it is my pride. As much as I love being here I want to put a good foot forward. So it’s doubly hard to come here and have my team play bad. But we’ll bounce back and play better tomorrow."
For Hawaii (6-1), the drama and disappointment of Sunday’s loss to then-10th-ranked Southern California was missing in action. Danielson was not. Her 19 kills, and a high-scoring rotation with senior libero Elizabeth Ka’aihue serving, were more than the Aztecs (5-2) could handle.
Why so many sets to Danielson when the Wahine question marks were at other positions?
"If we’re scoring I don’t mind her getting the ball," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "If she’s having to take three swings in a rally that’s not what we want to do. But she was ending points on the first swing almost every time."
By the time the Aztecs finally blocked Danielson, it was 14-10 in the second set and she had 10 kills. By the end of that set, she had half the Wahine’s 26.
Hawaii finished with 40, with junior transfer Chanteal Satele next-best with seven and freshman Michelle Waber getting five. It was those two Hawaii most wanted to see. UH is still searching for a starting lineup, with their positions in doubt after an erratic first two weeks.
"That is what this team needs," Shoji said. "I think they’ll be able to give us that more consistently."
Last night was better for both. Satele hit .429 and dropped in on three of UH’s 10 blocks. She added seven digs in her best performance since opening night.
"Chanteal always frustrates my team," said Collins, who played with Satele’s mother, Lee Ann, at UH. "We can’t stop her no matter what team she plays for."
Chanteal Satele will face her former St. Mary’s teammates tomorrow night, after the Wahine take on UC Irvine tonight. She feels better about that today.
"I’m working on being consistent and keeping my confidence up," Satele said "Everybody out there was really good about trying to keep me confident tonight."
Waber hit just .176, but she came into the match at .069. Junior Alexis Forsythe, out with an injured thumb last week, started the final set for freshman Emily Hartong and got a kill and a block. Shoji used 13 players and at one point had Ka’aihue surrounded by Forsythe and four freshmen.
"It was nice that we could come out and play efficiently without much emotion," Shoji said. "We had a short week, a short turnaround. Coming off a loss I was not sure how we’d prepare, but the girls prepared well. The passing was a little bit off, but we hit well enough to offset it."
Lauren Salisbury, SDSU’s lone starting senior, led her team with six kills. The Aztecs hit .050.
In the first match, freshman Jordan Shaw buried 17 kills to lift St. Mary’s (6-2) to a 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-11 win over UC Irvine.
Kari Pestolesi, daughter of former UH All-Americans Tom Pestolesi and Diane Sebastian, led the Anteaters (2-4) with 20 kills and added 14 digs.
» For the fifth year, UH and Verizon Wireless are teaming up to support Verizon’s HopeLine Program. Fans attending the tournament this weekend can drop off used wireless phones and accessories, which will be used to help survivors of domestic violence. HopeLine drop boxes will be located at the main entrance of the Stan Sheriff Center from 4-8 p.m. In addition, a new permanent HopeLine collection bin is available inside the arena.
NO. 6 HAWAII DEF. SAN DIEGO STATE 25-17, 25-18, 25-13
RAINBOW WAHINE (6-1)
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 — SDSU(3): Hannasch, Oropeza, Sexton. Hawaii (6): Mafua 2, Maeda 2, Ka’aihue, Satele. Service Errors — SDSU (8): Sexton 4, Pearson 3, Oropeza. Hawaii (7):Hewitt 2, Satele 2, Danielson, Ka’aihue, Mafua. Assists — SDSU (24): Fouch 22, Pearson, Sexton. Hawaii (36): Mafua 28, Ka’aihue 3, Uiato 2, Hartong, Griffiths, Maeda. T — 1:13. Officials — Denise Hanson, Wayne Lee. A — 3,127.