Sports Weary Wahine hope to avoid San Jose’s trap By Ann Miller Oct. 25, 2011 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. This is the seventh-ranked Rainbow Wahine’s last Western Athletic Conference volleyball regular-season road trip — ever. Maybe that will provide the incentive they need to find their way past San Jose State, Fresno State and Nevada. Certainly, after 16 years in the vast WAC and six matches in the past 13 days, Hawaii needs a little boost. The Wahine are whipped. And they are traveling Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, for matches tonight, Thursday and Saturday. Last Monday they led the country in hitting, at .315. They are now below .300, despite losing just one set in wins over Notre Dame (twice), Utah State and Idaho. The Rainbow Wahine played tremendously hard when they had to and looked vulnerable when they didn’t. But UH is 21-1, hasn’t lost since Sept. 4 and, with 50 consecutive regular-season conference wins, takes the country’s longest active streak into tonight’s match at suddenly scary Spartan Gym. SJSU is coming off back-to-back WAC wins, over Utah State and Idaho, for the first time since 2007. Freshman hitter Savanah Leaf is the WAC Player of the Week after a pair of double-doubles. The Spartans (9-13, 4-5 WAC) have climbed into fourth place and, for the first time in a very long time, might actually believe in themselves. "I think that this has been happening more and more," SJSU coach Oscar Crespo says. "There has been individual belief and, at times, we have put that out there with our wins, but it is now more apparent as a team. We make this one of our focal points." San Jose starts three Hawaii players — Kamehameha graduates Alex Akana and Caitlin Andrade, and Brianna Amian (Moanalua). Crespo brought in freshman Capri Tirrell (Maryknoll) this year. They are a vital part of the SJSU resurgence. "I believe these kids, as a collective group, are fun to have in the gym," he says. "Some have been playing together most of their career and instinctively create great situations on the court. Ball control and knowledge base is strong as well as a desire to be competitive." In contrast, the Wahine are going into this match with a lineup in flux, two starters searching for their offensive mojo, and the knowledge that last week was more about grit and groveling than pounding opponents into the ground. That is not normal heading into November. "This is one of those ‘trap’ games," UH coach Dave Shoji says. "It’s set up so we play four games in seven days, then get on a plane and have to play San Jose. It’s set up to be a tough match for us. But we’ve just got to suck it up and play." One of the bright spots in Sunday’s ragged win was the connection between All-American middle Brittany Hewitt and setter Mita Uiato. Hewitt had a percentage of .114 in the six matches prior to Sunday. She hit .500 against the Vandals. "Whatever was the disconnect between me and Mita, we figured it out," Hewitt said. "She just gave me some amazing sets." The connection with freshman hitter Jane Croson was not as promising. A kill on the final serve put Croson in positive numbers after eight hitting errors Sunday. She had a negative hitting percentage two nights earlier. "I’ve always said the left-side hitting position is the toughest for a freshman," Shoji said. "In high school and club ball, you can get a kill, but kills on the left at this level are hard. You look at some of the big-time recruits this year on the left side and they’re not hitting 20 percent. "She’s just got to hang in there and learn when to go for it. She’s missing lines by six inches, hitting good shots, but it’s a difficult position and she struggles from night to night." Previous Story Napoli, Rangers move 1 win from World Series crown Next Story Takahara-Dias must show progress, but how much?