Fletcher had one marvelous year
By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer
In what will be her only season of Division I volleyball, Kui Fletcher is leaving the folks around Thibodaux, La., wanting more.
She is the first Nicholls State player to lead the Southland Conference in kills. Her average of 5.23 kills per game (that's 1.1 fewer than Hawai'i's Kim Willoughby) climbed steadily all season and currently is 16th in NCAA Division I.
She led the Colonels to their first postseason appearance since 1997.
Southland Conference coaches hailed her as the league's Newcomer of the Year.
Unfortunately, it is hail and farewell.
Because of clerical mistakes at the community college she graduated from in California, Fletcher had to sit out the 2001 season waiting for her transcripts to be corrected. Now the NCAA's 5-year clock has run and she will play no more.
"I could only play one year, but it was very sweet, and I achieved so much in a short amount of time," Fletcher said Monday. "I wish I had another year. Who knows what I could accomplish?"
Fletcher is proud that, "I was able to set a higher standard for the upcoming volleyball players at Nicholls State." She has been asked by coach M.J. Engstrom to stay and help coach.
"Kui came in and has done everything I thought she would do and more," said Engstrom, "and for a lot of the season she did it on her own.
"Above and beyond the fact that she's very prolific killing the ball, she's a great defensive player."
Fletcher averaged 3.36 digs per game and, at 5 feet 7, had 48 blocks. She hit .220.
On the night she broke the season kills record, she finished with 27 kills and 18 digs in a five-game victory over Sam Houston State.
Although she can't look forward to another college season, Fletcher is excited about something else.
"I'm coming home for Christmas for the first time in three years," she said.
High-jumping sophomore Holly Yamada, a 2001 Farrington High graduate, was selected on the coaches' first All-Rocky Mountain Conference team.
Yamada led the Rangers in kills per game (3.79 eighth in the conference), digs per game (3.44) and service aces per game (0.33).
"Holly has one of the best jump serves in the RMAC, no doubt," Regis spokesman Jeffrey Duggan said. "I would also say that she has arguably the best 'hops' in the conference. I didn't see any player jump as high as Holly all season."
Yamada is barely 5 feet 6, says her high school coach, Jenic Tumaneng.
Yamada, a physical therapy major, is maintaining a 3.7 grade-point average, too.
Freshman setter Kari Shimomura (McKinley '02) won honorable mention All-California Pacific Conference. She led Menlo is assists and digs (3.7 per game in both) and aces with 29 in 44 games.
Defensive specialist Kehaulani Marciel (Kamehameha, of Kailua) averaged 2.5 digs per game.
Senior outside hitter and two-year captain Vanessa Farner (Seabury Hall, of Pukalani) "was one of our go-to players, a primary passer and outstanding defensive player," coach Kristi Vandenberg said.
Farner averaged 4.9 digs and 2.74 kills per game.