Wednesday, January 31, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Wahine set sights on two possible volleyball transfers

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two players at opposite ends of the volleyball spectrum have received permission to talk with the University of Hawaii Wahine about transferring.

Jennifer Fopma, an all-region middle blocker for Pepperdine last season, and Hedder Ilustre, the Big Sky Conference’s Outstanding Defensive Specialist from Cal State-Northridge, confirmed yesterday that they hope to receive clearance to play for the Wahine in the fall.

Both are sophomores. Ilustre is the sister of former Wahine Heidi Ilustre.

Fopma, from Bellflower, Calif., took an official visit to Hawaii during her senior year at Valley Christian High School. She passed on the Wahine when she saw little possibility of beating out All-American Heather Bown or all-conference Veronica Lima the following year.

Pepperdine told Fopma, who is 6 feet 3, that she could start as a freshman. She didn’t, but last season Fopma averaged 1.29 blocks a game and hit. 386 for the Waves, who finished the season ranked 18th. She was a second-team all-West Coast Conference selection and the only Wave selected to the all-Pacific Region team.

"Pepperdine is just not a good fit for me," Fopma said from Malibu. "I’m still in the process of getting clearance to play for Hawaii. When that will end, I’m not sure. I hope it’s soon."

Ilustre averaged more than 3 1/2 digs a game for Northridge, where she has career match highs of 30 digs and 13 kills. She was MVP of the California high school championships her senior year after burying 32 kills in the final.

But Ilustre, who likes "to say I’m 5-5 or 5-6" but is closer to 5-4 1/2, has no front-row illusions should she receive clearance to come to Manoa.

"I’m way too short to play front row," Ilustre said from Northridge. "I’d concentrate mostly on defense and passing. I’m hoping that the libero position will come out for women in the next year. I wish they had it a long time ago."

Ilustre does not anticipate a problem receiving clearance to play. Part of her reason for wanting a change is her affinity for Hawaii and the opportunity to be closer to her sister. Hedder also believes she is looking out for her future.

"I want to try and play volleyball after college," she said. "If that doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but there is absolutely no way I can do that if I graduate from Northridge.

"I always wanted to go to UH, but I had too much pride at first. I really wanted to get a scholarship my first year and UH had nothing available. Now, I realize I should have walked on at the beginning."

QUICK SETS: Angelica Ljungquist, the national Player of the Year in 1996 when she led the Wahine to the NCAA final, is playing professionally in Florence, Italy. . . . Heather Bown, a former UH All-American who started for the United States at last year’s Olympics, is also playing in Italy. Bown has gone from blonde to brunette for 2001.

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