Temperatures will be in the 30s. Crowds will be measured in hundreds, not thousands. One of the Rainbow Wahine’s most crucial concerns will be finding enough outlets — in airports, buses and bare-bones hotel rooms — to keep their vast and varied iKeep-you-from-boredom electronics charged.
It is road-trip time again for fourth-ranked Hawaii volleyball. The Wahine (16-1, 6-0 WAC) are at Idaho tonight, Boise State on Saturday and Utah State on Monday. The focus is not on their NCAA-best 31-match (regular season) Western Athletic Conference winning streak. It is about survival on a trip junior Kanani Danielson calls "a fun adventure for us" — with a wink.
"The next step is trying to survive this trip," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "The three-game road trips are real tough because the travel is tough. You don’t really get to rest because you’re traveling, but you need to get some work in. So everything combined makes it tough. We’re just hoping to survive and win three matches, and not get ahead of ourselves."
His players are focused on little things, like not letting balls drop or missing serves, and what card game, song or iPad app will entertain them next. They weren’t happy with their 11th consecutive win Sunday against Fresno State.
Western Athletic Conference
» Tonight: No. 4 Hawaii (16-1, 6-0 WAC) at Idaho (10-10, 5-4), 5 p.m.
» Saturday: Hawaii at Boise State (17-7, 4-4), 3 p.m.
» Monday: Hawaii at Utah State (14-5, 2-4), 4 p.m
» TV: Tonight and Monday live on ESPNU
» Radio: Tonight and Monday live on KKEA, 1420-AM; Saturday live on KHKA, 1500-AM, unless there are Major League Baseball playoff conflicts
"I know we have a lot more discipline than that," senior tri-captain Dani Mafua said. "We let a lot of little plays go down and those are the things that make the difference come postseason. We need to stay disciplined and focused so when we play tougher teams those things are not going to happen."
The toughness of the next three opponents has been difficult to gauge.
Idaho (10-10, 5-4) lost the most from last year, but is just points from being in second. Of the Vandals’ four conference losses, three came in five sets on the road, including last Saturday at New Mexico State. No WAC team has swept them, and they have won 16 of their last 19 at home, helping them finish third to UH and NMSU the past two years.
Freshman Allison Walker is averaging nearly four kills. Their only senior, Kelsey Taylor, is 23rd nationally in blocking, while Idaho is 12th as a team.
Boise State (17-6, 4-4) also lost to NMSU in five. The Broncos already have more wins than any season since 2004. They are led by senior middles Alisha Young and Sadie Maughan, who are combining on 6.00 kills and 2.25 blocks a set, and hitting .356.
Utah State (14-5, 2-4) opened the season with 11 wins but has stumbled since, falling hard in Hawaii and getting shocked in San Jose. Aggies’ senior libero Christine Morrill is now the school’s career dig leader, while Liz McArthur and Shantell Durrant are among the country’s top 20 in hitting and blocking, respectively.
All three opponents are good enough to give Hawaii a tough time, particularly at home where they will draw more than the "good solid 25" fans the Wahine saw at Louisiana Tech.
"This is a good opportunity for us to get better at our system, gel and challenge ourselves mentally, so come later this season … it’s like we’re rehearsing already," Mafua said. "We need to find a level we should be playing every single night.
"We’ve got to set the bar high, not let opponents dictate how we perform. Push each other on the court, then everything will take care of itself."
UH will still start its focus from within. After missing 13 serves Sunday, Shoji challenged each server to work individually to make sure it didn’t happen again. And, while he has only tweaked his lineup this season, two positions remain in semi-limbo. Junior Alexis Forsythe and freshmen Emily Hartong and Michelle Waber will fill one middle and one left-side position, but they could rotate the rest of the year.
"Waber’s spot (left side) is going to be manned by one of the two freshmen," Shoji says. "It’s a spot where we just need certain things, we don’t need them to carry the team. Hartong is going to be in the lineup one way or another. She probably has the best arm of anybody besides Kanani."
» Bump, Set & Spike for the Cure will be Saturday, from 2-6 p.m. at the Barbara Cox Anthony Sports Complex Gymnasium at La Pietra. The event will raise money to fight breast cancer. Kamehameha, Punahou, University High, Hawaii Baptist and St. Francis will scrimmage as they look toward the state tournament. La Pietra, Moanalua and Kaiser will also participate.
The event will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Guest speakers are La Pietra faculty member, Amy Miner, and La Pietra parent, Michele Mendoza, both breast cancer survivors. There is a $3 donation at the door to attend. Everyone is asked to wear pink to show support for the fight against breast cancer.
» The Wahine moved up to eighth in this week’s NCAA women’s volleyball ratings percentage index. They are behind Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Stanford, Penn State, Northern Iowa and Duke. The next WAC team is New Mexico State at No. 68, followed by Utah State (88), Boise State (103), Nevada (132), Fresno State (156) and Idaho (179). There are 328 Division I schools playing volleyball.
» In national statistics, Hawaii moved up to 11th in blocking this week at 2.79 per set — paced by national leader Brittany Hewitt, who is averaging 1.77. The team is also in the top 30 in kills (14.05), hitting (.270) and assists (13.07). Kanani Danielson is 11th in kills (4.54) and 14th in points (5.12).
» Hawaii is ahead of Nebraska as it tries to lead the country in volleyball attendance for the 17th straight year. The Wahine are averaging 6,215 in their first 15 home dates. Nebraska is at 5,218, followed by Wisconsin (3,807).
|New Mexico State||7-1||.875||13-9||.591|
|San Jose State||3-5||.375||8-14||.364|
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
UOP def. SJSU, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19
Fresno State def. Bakersfield, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20, 25-27, 15-11
Utah Valley def. Boise State, 25-14, 26-24, 16-25, 25-22
Hawaii at Idaho, 5 p.m.
New Mexico State at Nevada
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
Hawaii at Boise State, 3 p.m.
Fresno State at San Jose State
Louisiana Tech at Nevada
New Mexico State at Utah State
Hawaii at Utah State, 4 p.m.
Fresno State at Boise State