Sports For Wahine, the Big West will finally feel like home By Ann Miller Sept. 27, 2012 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. Barging back into the Big West will finally feel real in Hawaii this weekend. The eighth-ranked Rainbow Wahine play host to UC Irvine tonight and old volleyball nemesis Long Beach State Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Hawaii played its first three Big West matches in 17 years last week on the road. It went unbeaten, but the results were mixed, to be kind. Hawaii needed five sets to beat Cal States Northridge and Fullerton. UH coach Dave Shoji, who changed the lineup after his team went up 2-0 against the Titans, took the blame for that one. The blame was shared after a ragged performance at Northridge. It looked much like the roller-coaster Wahine team that lost to Cal the second week of the season, and nothing like the bunch that buried Stanford and Baylor. UH WAHINE VOLLEYBALL At Stan Sheriff Center >> Today: Hawaii (10-2, 3-0) vs. UC Irvine (7-8, 2-0), 7 p.m. >> Saturday: Hawaii vs. Long Beach State (7-6, 2-0), 7 p.m. >> TV: Live on OC Sports (Ch. 16) tonight and on pay per view Saturday >> Radio: Live on KKEA 1420-AM Former Hawaii All-American Kanani Danielson has an intriguing take on her former team’s most compelling needs as she heads to Japan to play professionally. "Right now it is a work in progress," Danielson said at Tuesday’s exhibition against her new team. "It’s still very early in the season. The main thing that needs to straighten up is leadership. Everybody is talented, what helps out is constant communication and constant encouragement. "Somebody needs to step up. It could come out in a mean way, it could come out in a soft way. It just has to be something you know is going to trigger your team." Danielson was crystal clear on who that "somebody" needs to be. "The only person it can be is Emily Hartong," she said quickly. "She’s just been her wonderful self. She definitely brings a lot to the table, but I’d like her to be more vocal as a leader. She’s showing it the way she plays, but now they need her to be the vocal leader." Danielson knows it is easier said than done. She admits she’s still working on the challenge. Hartong, a junior co-captain, leads the conference in kills and is second for UH in aces, third in blocking and fourth in digs. She is also trying not to be a reluctant leader. "It’s not really in my personality or nature," she said. "I’m trying to lead more by example, and just be louder and more responsible on the court — that person you can come to and be comfortable and feel like, ‘OK, we’re in a good situation’ and not panicked on the court." Shoji is comfortable with that, maybe because he does not want the immensely likeable Hartong to be uncomfortable. "She has led and stepped up," he said. "She is not a verbal-type leader. She’s more into taking care of things behind the scenes, not the girl in the huddle yelling at anybody. She’s not that type of person, but everybody respects her game and work ethic and that’s what we need from her. That’s what she does for us. "I’m not a huge fan of people being verbal. If you’re not a verbal person and it’s forced, it doesn’t work. Our dynamics are fine. (Ali) Longo can step up and she is probably the most verbal of anybody on the team." Which brings the Wahine back to trying to keep their focus. Last week that was a bigger worry than their passing, inexperience in the middle and rotating door opposite the setter. They come into tonight’s match with the country’s longest regular-season conference winning streak (58) and the challenge of slowing Irvine’s Aly Squires. The junior is just behind Hartong and Pacific’s Megan Birch in conference kills, at 4.04 a set. Ella Rosenfeld is second in blocks (1.24) after helping the Anteaters to a 35-9 edge in last week’s two wins. Senior libero Kristin Winkler is second in digs (5.11) and closing on the Big West record. Then there is The Beach, which plays at Northridge tonight. Shoji is upbeat after the way his team —especially Jane Croson — played in Tuesday’s exhibition against Toyota Auto Body, a Japanese pro team. "Obviously we are more comfortable at home," he said. "I think we learned a lot last week. I hope we play a lot better." Previous Story Belichick fined 50K, Kyle Shanahan 25K by NFL Next Story Cheers as NFL refs return: 'It's good to be back'