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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Defending champion BYUH is team to beat in PacWest

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Division II women's volleyball season starts this week. Here's a rundown on each Hawai'i team.


While other schools dream about national championships, the Seasiders expect nothing less.

The Seasiders won their 10th national title last year and enter this season as the top-ranked NCAA Division II team in a preseason coaches' poll.

"The expectations, definitely, a national title every year," BYUH coach Wilfred Navalta said. "That's the ultimate. It's always in the back of our minds. But we don't discuss it a lot."

BYUH was the unanimous pick by league coaches to repeat as champions of the six-team Pacific West Conference this season.

The Seasiders return four of six starters — junior setter Kaala Lo, senior middle blocker/outside hitter Ashley Moeai, sophomore middle blocker Chun Yi Lin and sophomore outside hitter Yu Chuan Weng. Weng and Lin are first-team All-Americans.

"We're going to expect them to carry the team again," Navalta said of the four. "Then everyone else is going to fill in roles right now."

Sophomore outside hitter Aimee Crippen and Kahuku freshman libero Lesina Funaki are the leading candidates for the two remaining starting positions, Navalta said.

Ball handling and defense are the Seasiders' strengths this year, and will likely offset the team's lack of veterans, Navalta said. The Seasiders have two seniors on the roster.

"We have some confidence as far as last year winning the national title, but we're still relatively a young team," Navalta said.


Coach: Wilfred Navalta (entering 19th year, 437-77)

Last season: 27-2 overall, 9-1 Pacific West Conference, first place

Top returnees: Lin (MB, 6-1, so., 4.65 kpg, .449 hitting pct., 35 aces, .98 bpg), Lo (S, 5-5, jr., 13.45 apg, 41 aces, 2.09 dpg), Moeai (MB/OH, 5-11, sr., 3.43 kpg, .281 hitting pct., 35 aces, 0.89 bpg), Weng (OH, 5-9, so., 4.84 kpg, .271 hitting pct., 26 aces, 3.22 dpg).


The Sea Warriors enter this season without their top two offensive players, but they recruited several athletes to help fill the void.

HPU lost two-time All-America middle blocker Susy Garbelotti to graduation and outside hitter Teisa Fotu who transferred to the University of Hawai'i. Garbelotti and Fotu accounted for 722 of HPU's 1,335 kills last season.

The additions of 6-foot-3 Flavia Brakling, 6-foot-2 Paula Nacsimento, 6-foot-1 Katie Ralph and 6-foot Breezy Scott will add size and depth to the Sea Warriors. Scott plays middle blocker, while the others are outside hitters.

The Sea Warriors finished third in the PacWest last season and were picked by league coaches to finish second in the conference. In addition, HPU was ranked No. 22 nationally in a preseason Division II coaches' poll.

"If we play like we practice and execute at the right time we should place ourselves in a good position come postseason," HPU coach Tita Ahuna said. "It's just a matter of how much these girls want to put into the program and how strong they become mentally. Physically we'll be up there with the best in the nation."

First-team all-conference sophomore setter Vera Oliveira and junior outside hitter Sandra Brunke are two of six key returnees.


Coach: Tita Ahuna (entering eighth year, 144-43)

Last season: 14-9 overall, 6-4 Pacific West Conference, third place

Top returnees: Oliveira (S, 5-11, so., 1.41 kpg, .346 hitting pct., 10.92 apg, 31 aces, 2.28 dpg, 0.84 bpg), Katy Wilson (OH, 5-11, sr., 0.49 kpg, 0.40 bpg), Mahealani Rawlins (S, 5-6, so., 0.71 apg, 2.32 dpg), Brunke (OH, 6-2, jr., 2.46 kpg, 31 aces, 1.09 dpg, 0.30 bpg), Briana Marinas (OH, 5-8, so., 1.48 kpg, 2.45 dpg).


Of its returnees this season, the most important Chaminade holdover had to be head coach Glennie Adams.

In the off-season, Adams emerged as one of the top candidates to replace Hawai'i-Hilo's Sharon Peterson who announced her retirement in December.

However, Adams said she had a change of heart and decided to remain at Chaminade to coach her 10th season.

"I love to coach," Adams said. "I'm going to put forth my best effort in everything that I do in the coaching area."

The Silverswords finished second in the PacWest last season and were picked by league coaches to place third this season.

Chaminade returns seven players, including starting junior outside hitters Kahala Kabalis, Janeen Waialae and first-team all-conference Valasi Sepulona. Freshman middle blocker Patti Hardimon, junior setter Michelle Norman and junior middle blocker Amy Richelderfer are the leading candidates for the other starting spots, Adams said.

Adams said the Silverswords are short — besides 6-foot-2 Richelderfer no player is taller than 5 feet 10 — but are very scrappy, physically strong and extremely coachable.

"They have a great attitude," Adams said. "Humble and just hungry to learn stuff."


Coach: Glennie Adams (entering 10th year, 101-122)

Last season: 15-8 overall, 6-4 Pacific West Conference, second place

Top returnees: Kabalis (OH, 5-9, jr., 3.80 kpg, 32 aces, 3.43 dpg), Waialae (OH, 5-8, jr., 10.91 apg, 19 aces, 1.98 dpg), Sepulona (OH, 5-8, jr., 3.88 kpg, 3.34 dpg).


First-year head coach Julie Morgan inherits a team that pulled a major upset last year and she hopes for more surprises this season.

The Vulcans were the only PacWest team to defeat eventual national champion BYUH which lost only twice last year.

"If they were capable of it last year, they're capable of it this year," Morgan said. "The girls are really excited. I think they'll be a real good fun team to watch. We're not going to lay down and die, that's for sure."

UH-Hilo finished sixth in the PacWest last year and was picked by league coaches to finish fifth this season.

Morgan wants the seniors — such as first-team all-conference outside hitter Sara Pilgreen — to lead the team and inject some fun into the Vulcan program.

"I don't think anybody can say they're having fun if they're getting hammered every match," Morgan said. "But I think these kids have worked real hard and they seem very motivated. They're a close knit group. That's half the battle in a team sport."

Other than Pilgreen at hitter, Morgan said she is still tinkering with a starting lineup.

Senior setters Brittany Baum and Megan Denman, and sophomore outside hitter Cori Sutter could also be major contributors, Morgan said.


Coach: Julie Morgan (entering first year)

Last season: 8-18 overall, 3-7 Pacific West Conference, sixth place

Top returnees: Denman (S, 5-8, sr., 0.67 kpg, 10.93 apg, 41 aces, 1.53 dpg, 0.63 bpg), Pilgreen (OH, 5-10, sr., 3.50 kpg, 3.06 dpg), Tiffanie Ollison (OH, 5-11, sr., 2.68 kpg, 2.98 dpg), Amy Kato (L, 5-3, so, 2.12 dpg), Emily Hutchinson (OH, 6-0, sr., 2.28 kpg, 27 aces, 1.19 dpg).