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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

UH, BYU sweep openers

 •  Hawai'i, BYU was inevitable
 •  Game statistics

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lily Kahumoku leads a cheer after a Hawai'i kill in last night's NCAA tournament match against Idaho.

Photos by Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Idaho's Meghan Brown challenges the Hawai'i double block of Nohea Tano, center, and Maja Gustin in last night's match.

Kim Willoughby of the Wahine digs up a Idaho Vandals serve in the second game.
Second-ranked Hawai'i gave Idaho a glimmer of hope last night then grabbed it away, sweeping the Vandals, 30-24, 30-20, 30-21, in the first round of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship.

The Rainbow Wahine (33-1) go after their 33rd consecutive victory tonight in the second round against Brigham Young, which swept Sun Belt Conference champion New Mexico State earlier yesterday.

In front of 5,842 at Stan Sheriff Center, Hawai'i was in control from 22-all in the first game. Kim Willoughby (21 kills) and Lily Kahumoku (13) took turns seeing who could hit the ball the loudest as the Vandal block, distracted just enough by the UH middles, simply could not close on the outside.

"Their middles definitely showed us a little more than what we expected," said Sarah Meek, who led Idaho with 10 kills. "We knew Hawai'i was a really dominant outside hitting team."

The All-America outsides launched kills straight down inside the 10-foot line on a regular basis. Kahumoku went over the block, down the line and off the top of Saxony Brown's head in the first game. In the last, Idaho libero Jessica Yearout just put her left hand over her face when Willoughby went by the block yet again.

"I think we re-set the bar," Kahumoku said. "We're not going to settle for anything less than the level of intensity we had tonight."

The Rainbows needed it all in the first game, against one of the finest first-round opponents they have faced.

Idaho went kill-for-kill with UH early as the 'Bows got a block for the first point, then came up empty until their second stuff came from Maja Gustin and Nohea Tano to make it 29-24. That gave Willoughby a serve for the game and she blasted her first ace, to go with 10 kills.

The 'Bows had to hit .429 to hold Idaho off. They made it look easy. After the first game, it looked even easier as Lauren Duggins joined in with 13 kills and .455 hitting.

"Kanoe (Kamana'o) was just putting the ball on the money," Kahumoku said of her freshman setter. "Keep it high and inside the pins and it's all good."

Added Willoughby, "We can jump high sometimes."

She would get three more aces and serve eight points in the second game. By then, the Rainbow Wahine's power had begun to wear on the Vandals and the Hawai'i blockers began to read the Idaho offense. They frustrated all-Big West middle Anna-Marie Hammond into .067 hitting and slowly sucked all the offense out of Idaho.

The only discouraging moment for UH came early in Game 2, when Gustin landed on Idaho's Meghan Brown at the net and rolled her ankle. Gustin, who hit nearly .500 last week, popped up and walked off the court. She was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain and probably will not play tonight. She should be able to practice Monday if the 'Bows move on.

Karin Lundqvist took her place and helped Hawai'i stifle Idaho into .148 hitting the final two games.

Earlier BYU, which also has a starting middle blocker out, breezed by NMSU, 30-17, 30-17, 30-27.

NCAA Volleyball

WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center

WHEN: BYU vs. Hawai'i, 7 p.m.

RADIO: Live on 1420 AM

TV: Live on K5

TICKETS: $12 lower, $9 upper

The Cougars (24-8) had 14 aces against the Aggies, who lost eight of the first nine points and never recovered. NMSU (30-5), which will join the WAC in 2005, came into its first NCAA Tournament with a 24-match winning streak. Its last loss coming nearly three months ago against Fresno State.

QUICK SETS: Hawai'i senior Kim Willoughby is included in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated On Campus, which honors "the best college athletes for the fall season." The magazine included Willoughby for "setting the pace for No. 2 Hawai'i ... ranking first or second in the nation in kills per game in each of the last three seasons" and for being on pace to finish sixth on the NCAA's career kill list. ... Mike Jordan has 112 coaching victories at NMSU, leaving him three short of the school record held by Tom Shoji, a younger brother of UH coach Dave Shoji. ... Two of the six Big West teams in the tournament — Idaho and Long Beach State — lost last night. Pacific beat San Francisco and plays at fifth-seeded Stanford tonight. The other three Big West teams open tonight.

Reach Ann Miller at amiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8043.

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