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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 26, 2002

UH volleyball team hosts Rice for WAC opener

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Second-ranked University of Hawai'i opens its conference volleyball season tomorrow night against Rice, the beast of the WAC East.

WAC volleyball

• WHO: Second-ranked Hawai'i (10-0) vs. Rice (8-6) tomorrow

• WHEN: 7 p.m.

• WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center

• TV/Radio: KFVE (5) and 1420 AM will broadcast live

• TICKETS: $12 lower bowl (single seats only), $9 upper, $8 senior citizens and $5 students


• SERIES: Hawai'i leads, 9-0

The Owls (8-6) have rallied after losing their first four, but face a much more compelling challenge at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Wahine (10-0) haven't lost a Western Athletic Conference match in four years, a span of 58 matches.

Rice (8-6) takes aim at that streak with a bunch of Beccas and one of the country's most educated coaches, who guides a team dominated by underclassmen.

Rebeca Pazo, the 2001 WAC Freshman of the Year from Venezuela, has earned all-tournament honors the last three weeks. The all-WAC opposite averages more than four kills a game.

Rebecca Kainz, a 6-foot-3 sophomore middle, leads the WAC in blocking (1.24 per game) and was conference Player of the Week Sept. 16. She is opposite senior Briana Cook, who is re-writing the school's career blocking records.

Rebekah Neal, a 5-9 junior setter, splits time with 6-1 senior Mariel Davenport-Pollock.

Rice reached the top of the WAC East last season — it didn't lose a match in its division — and was the preseason pick to do the same this year. The Owls were picked to finish fourth in the conference this season, behind West teams Hawai'i, San Jose State and Fresno State.

Coach Julio Morales came to Rice from the University of Puerto Rico, where he also coached the national team. He has a master's degree from Houston, a Ph.D. from Maryland and is certified nationally as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Rice has won six road matches this season, but hasn't won in an atmosphere close to what it will see tomorrow.

Hawai'i again leads the country in attendance, averaging 7,207 a match. It also has two All-Americans among the top 30 nationally in kills; Kim Willoughby is second at 6.25 per game and Lily Kahumoku is 26th at 4.90.

QUICK SETS: UNLV coach Deitre Collins, a three-time All-American at UH who went on to play in the Olympics, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week. Collins ended up on the season premiere of the show's 17th season because UNLV junior Leiana Oswald wrote Winfrey telling her how she was a role model for Collins much as Collins was a role model for Oswald. ... Collins was invited on the show with her assistants — Campbell High graduate Matt Johnson, who played for and helped coach the Rainbow men, and University High graduate Erika Nash, who played for Bradley and is the daughter of UH men's basketball associate coach Bob Nash. ... Hawai'i sophomore middle blocker Melody Eckmier has been cleared to play. She has been out the last two weeks with a sprained knee.