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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 21, 2002

No. 2 UH pounds Houston in sweep

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Second-ranked University of Hawai'i is in mid-Western Athletic Conference season form a week before the WAC begins.

The Rainbow Wahine (9-0) remained unbeaten with a 30-17, 30-17, 30-20 volleyball victory over Houston last night before 4,957 at Stan Sheriff Center. The match lasted just 1:21. The outcome was in question for mere minutes.

"We kinda set a time limit," UH junior Lauren Duggins said. "Like, if we play our game — the best we can play, all-around — we'll be out of here by 8:30. The coaches won't be mad, everybody will be happy. We'll just continue to improve for later — our big goal."

Hawai'i will take that timely thought into tonight's match with St. Mary's (Calif.). Houston (7-4), which has lost its past four, faces the Gaels (3-4) tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the arena.

The Rainbow Wahine put on their WAC-game face last night and treated Houston like a conference foe, winning with ease and smiling most of the match. The last game was tied at 7, which was the closest the Cougars came.

"We just need to stay focused, try and stay at a high level regardless of what's happening on the other side of the net," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "They are obviously struggling, but we just can't lose concentration. It's a challenge to stay up sometimes, especially after Tuesday when we had to play at a really high level. But I think our team did a nice job of taking some things away early."

Such as Houston's offense. Hawai'i accumulated a season-high 13 stuffs, with Duggins (7) and Lily Kahumoku (5) going for season highs. The Rainbow Wahine roofed the Cougars into .044 hitting, while going at a .435 pace on the other side.

Hawai'i's All-American hitters did much of the offensive damage, with Kim Willoughby going for 17 kills — her only two errors coming in Game 3 — and Kahumoku adding 14 with nine digs. But they had more help last night, with Duggins getting nine kills — and just one late error — and freshman Susie Boogaard pounding seven kills without an error in two games.

Shoji used all 12 players in what he termed a sequel to Tuesday's hard-hitting exhibition victory over Samorodok, a professional Russian team. Only the Cougars didn't put up nearly as much resistance. His team was ready for that, too.

Willoughby's 2002 jump serve gave Hawai'i its quick start. Karin Lundqvist's kill made it 11-8 and gave Willoughby the ball. She blasted a back-row kill and Kahumoku earned the next point after a long rally. Then Willoughby crushed two aces. After the media timeout, she reared back and served a change-up. The Cougars watched the ball hit softly in the middle of the court.

Willoughby smiled and Shoji laughed out loud, along with most of the crowd. She finished with five aces, giving her 27 for the season.

"Coach told us after the first game that it was critical to pass the jump serve better," said Donna Sellen, the Cougars' senior setter. "Kim Willoughby ... that ball screams when it comes off her hand."

Problems with basic passing turned into a hitting nightmare. Sellen was Houston's only offensive threat in Game 1, going 3-for-5, while her hitters struggled to an .087 percentage. Duggins had four blocks in the game as the Rainbow Wahine constructed an imposing roof for the second straight match.

"Some teams you can't even read where they're going to hit," Duggins said. "Like Kim and Lily — you don't know where they're going to go. Blocking them, you can't really do much but go straight up. But other teams, like the Russians, they just hit hard and its going straight. You just need to get in front of it. And Houston wasn't real fancy. We couldn't block the setter. She's good. But the middles we only had two options and the outside they just hit high."

QUICK SETS: San Jose State, picked to finish second in the WAC, dropped to 5-6 with losses this week to Sacramento State and San Francisco. ... Hawai'i opens its WAC season Friday at home against Rice. The Owls were picked to finish fourth, behind UH, SJSU and Fresno State. They are the top pick from the Eastern Division. ... Rice lost to Houston in four games earlier this month, but won the Lady Vol Classic last week — its first tournament victory in three years. ... The Cougars were picked to finish fifth in Conference USA this season.