Hawaii looks impressive in defeating three ranked teams while capturing classic championship.
The University of Hawaii women's volleyball team began their quest to New Orleans and the NCAA Final Four, as they captured the 15th Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic with wins over nationally ranked opponents Ohio State, Colorado and UCLA. The title was their seventh classic championship.
The Wahine showed why there has been such excitement and high expectations throughout the community with their outstanding play.
Hawaii opened up against Ohio State, preseason Big 10 favorites, on Friday evening in front of nearly 9,000 fanatics. Last year's All American outside hitter Kim "Bayou Basher" Willoughby picked up where she left off last season, pounding down 18 kills and middle blocker Lauren Duggins added a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs as Hawaii swept past the Buckeyes in three straight 30-24, 30-24 and 30-23.
After a day off, the Wahine returned to the sports court to face another Big 10 opponent, the University of Colorado. The extra day of rest must have been good for the Wahine as they came out smoking in game one and never looked back the rest of the match, disposing of the Buffalo in straight sets 30-18, 30-21 and 30-22.
That win, coupled with UCLA's victories in their first two matches, set the stage for Sunday evening's championship. The two heavyweight's of the classic. Long time rival's. Each the owner of six classic title's. Identical 33-11 all time records in the classic.
Revenge was also on the mind's of the Hawaii player's, as UCLA defeated the Wahine for the classic championship last year and ended the 2001 Hawaii season at the west regional in Long Beach, California.
With fire in their eyes, the motivated Wahine survived a late Bruin rally to edge UCLA in game one 30-28. Game two saw Hawaii jump out to an early lead once again, only to see the Bruins tie it up at 11, 12, 13 and 14 before the Wahine went on a run that UCLA couldn't catch, winning it 30-25.
With their backs against the wall, UCLA responded in the fourth game. In a back and forth affair that saw neither team lead by more then three points, UCLA battled back from a 26-23 deficit to beat the Wahine 30-28 and force a fourth game.
That was a wake call for Hawaii. Like a nest of angry hornets, the Wahine jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead before freshman Susie Boogaard served up 13 straight points to put the match out of hand. Hawaii won the fourth easily, 30-13.
The left side duo of Kahumoku(26 kills, 11 digs) and Willoughby(19 kills, 10 digs) lead the Wahine attack.
Lauren Duggins, Lily Kahumoku and Kim Willoughby were all named to the all –tournament team, with Willoughby capturing the tournament's most outstanding player award.
Next for the Wahine is the Aston Imua Challenge, September 5th -7th at the Stan Sheriff Center. Joining Hawaii are San Francisco, San Diego and Washington
AT THE NET
Middle Blocker Maja Gustin is questionable for this weekends matches with a foot injury…. UH is 4-0 all time against San Francisco, hold a 35-3 advantage against San Diego State and have won 5 of the 6 meetings with Washington…. The University of Hawaii will play host to the prestigious State Farm/NACWAA tournament August 22 and 23, 2003. The tourney officially kicks off the women's season and usually is comprised of Top 10 teams. The rest of the field will be announced at a later date…Hawaii remained 4th in the latest USA Today/ AVCA Coaches poll released on Monday…. Defending National Champion Stanford(future UH opponent) tops the poll…The only other ranked opponent is Utah, which checks in at 8th…..Hours after the poll's release, 2nd ranked Nebraska faced 3rd rated USC in a huge early season matchup. In a bit of a surprise, USC swept the Huskers 30-26, 30-19 and 32-30.