Setter Collins could be replacement for All-American Tuitele
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
No one can replace All-American setter Nia Tuitele.
But Hawai'i Pacific University volleyball head coach Tita Ahuna has found a player who could set her own standards.
Alyssa Collins, a 5-10 setter from Flagstaff High School in Arizona, has committed to play at HPU.
With her height and skills, Collins is expected to compete for the starting position at setter.
Two local standouts also committed to HPU.
Outside hitters Ashley Elliazar from Iolani School and Briana Marina of Wai'anae High School add depth for the Sea Warriors, who lost five players including two outside hitters.
"We're coming back with a good nucleus, although it's small," Ahuna said. "We have very good players and we should be exciting to watch. We're recruiting impact players. We're looking forward to having, on paper, a decent team."
Recruiting local players is a priority for Ahuna.
"I think it's extremely important that we have that local connection," she said. "They bring a lot of heart to the program, and that's something that's difficult to teach. You can have the best athletes, but if they don't have that heart and desire and the willingness to give 110 percent, it's all for naught."
Middle blocker Susy Garbelotti, who sat out last season with an illness, will return for her senior year, helping round out the Sea Warrior front line.
Garbelotti was a member of the 2000 national championship team, the first squad in the 20-year history of NCAA II volleyball to post an undefeated season (28-0).
She was instrumental in the Sea Warriors' win over Augustana College (S.D.) in the championship match.
Garbelotti recorded 14 kills, 13 digs and seven blocks during the match, leading the team in the tournament with 45 kills while hitting .594.
The Sea Warriors won their third consecutive Pacific West Conference title last year, posting an 18-4 record (12-3 in the conference). HPU lost to Cal State San Bernardino in the semifinals of the NCAA II Pacific Region tournament.
Ahuna is still waiting to hear back from several foreign recruits.
The baseball program has also signed players who will fill in the holes left by departing seniors.
At shortstop, Hawai'i Pacific signed freshmen Grandon Costa (St. Louis School) and Chase Nakamura ('Aiea High), and junior-college transfer Bryan Daguio (Cypress Community College in Cypress, Calif.) Daguio's grandfather, Andy Daguio, is the assistant band director at HPU.
Freshman Zachary Blatteis (Oakland City High School) and junior-college transfer Brent Erickson (Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.) will join the Sea Warriors' pitching staff.
Hawai'i Pacific also signed third baseman Ryan Marcos (Orange Coast College) and second baseman Brandon Sato (St. Louis), who is the nephew of Sea Warriors' head coach Alan Sato.