Sky’s full of smiles for University of Hawaii Wahine volleyball
The surreal became real Tuesday.
Sky Williams walked off the Stan Sheriff Center volleyball court on Sunday night with the bowl that designated her as the “Most Valuable Player” of the Heineken Invitational.
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The surreal became real Tuesday.
Sky Williams walked off the Stan Sheriff Center volleyball court on Sunday night with the bowl that designated her as the “Most Valuable Player” of the Heineken Invitational. But it wasn’t until Tuesday that the inscription became engraved on her psyche.
“When I came into the locker room and saw my bowl it was ‘Wow, I earned that,’ ” the 6-foot-1 junior middle for No. 18 Hawaii said. “I have worked really hard and this means a lot to me. I’m feeling confident.”
It showed last weekend with Williams having career nights, first against Army with 13 kills and then hitting 1.000 in putting down all nine swings against Sacramento State. It also earned the Bellflower, Calif., native defensive player of the week honors from the Big West.
Williams already has 25 blocks in helping the Rainbow Wahine (6-0) to their best start since 2004. She had 25 blocks her entire sophomore season with just six starts.
“Sky is doing awesome this year,” Hawaii coach Robyn Ah Mow said. “I told her she’s changed from the last two years, but in a good way.
“Her play has elevated. Her blocking is better, her offense is as well. And her smile is infectious. Her nickname is ‘Smiley.’ The girls feed off it, the coaches feed off it.”
Williams sees it as good, something in which she takes pride.
“Someone needs to bring everyone up and I see myself as the positivity,” she said. “Even when I make an error I can say, ‘My bad’ and move on knowing we’ll be OK.
“That’s what is different this season, a total different energy. Everyone is being confident on the court.”
That wasn’t always the case when Williams was in high school. When her club coach, former Wahine defensive specialist Alex Griffiths, told her, ‘I have a school for you. Hawaii.’ Williams had her doubts.
“I said I don’t think they’ll want me, they’re so good, I have no chance at being there,” Williams recalled. “I was doubting myself. But Coach Alex said I had the potential to get there.”
Then-Wahine coach Dave Shoji came to watch Williams and offered a scholarship. But months before Williams graduated from Mayfair High, Shoji retired and was replaced by Ah Mow, who had been an assistant when Griffiths played (2010-11).
“Coach Alex told me what to expect from Coach Rob (Ah Mow) and she started coaching me like Coach Rob had coached her so I could be ready for that relationship,” Williams said.
Williams has had four setters in her three-year career. This season it’s seniors Norene Iosia and Bailey Choy, the latter in her first year as a Wahine after transferring from Utah.
In Hawaii’s 6-2 offense, the substitution pattern has the setters subbing for the middles after three rotations. Choy and Williams come together with Williams replacing Iosia.
The “two ships passing in the night” has given Iosia a different perspective on Williams’ game.
“She’s doing amazing,” Iosia said. “In spring, she was our only middle and she was taking all the extra reps she could get from Coach Ang (former Wahine All-American middle Angelica Ljungqvist, current UH associate head coach).
“Coming into double days, she was really driven to get that starting spot. I’m really happy for her. You’re seeing all that had work pay off.”
The same can be said for the Hawaii team.
“I think it’s all the elements that we put in,” Williams said. “Everyone being motivated, having the passion to get better every day, having that determination, having the passion to win.”
OUTRIGGER RESORTS CHALLENGE
Stan Sheriff Center
>> UCLA (3-2) vs. Utah Valley (2-5), 4:45 p.m.
>> West Va. (4-2) at No. 18 Hawaii (6-0), 7 p.m.
>> UCLA vs. West Virginia, 4:45 p.m.
>> Utah Valley at No. 18 Hawaii, 7 p.m.
>> West Virginia vs. Utah Valley, 4 p.m.
>> UCLA at No. 18 Hawaii, 7 p.m.
TV: OC Sports Ch. 16/1016 (UH matches only)
Radio: 1420-AM/92.7-FM (Hawaii matches only)