Rainbow Wahine sweep past Wyoming in volleyball
Coach Dave Shoji took the occasion of Hawai'i's most lopsided volleyball victory since, well, last week to tweak his lineup tonight in the 14th annual Honolulu Advertiser Volleyball Challenge.
Senior Jamie Houston, second in the country in kills last year, did not play for the 11th-ranked Rainbow Wahine, who swept Wyoming, 25-15, 25-10, 25-18.
The Cowgirls (0-5) and first-year coach Carrie Yerty remained winless before a Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 5,551. Hawai'i (3-2) pulled above .500 for the first time this season.
They did it with red-shirt freshman Stephanie Ferrell playing for Houston and sophomore Amanda Simmons getting the first start of her collegiate career. By the third set, with the outcome not in doubt, Ferrell was the only starter left.
Houston's hitting percentage this early season is .110. This is only the third match she has missed in four years and Shoji said the sole reason was to get Ferrell more experience.
Every other senior started in the final set. Tara Hittle took off her libero jersey for the first time this season and buried five kills. Nickie Thomas and Jessica Keefe — who lost three seasons to injury between them — got some playing time for all the practice and pain they have put in the past four years.
Stephanie Brandt, last year's starting setter, gave Dani Mafua a breather and Jayme Lee returned to the libero position she owned two years ago.
Transfer Catherine Fowler joined Thomas in the middle and Ferrell never came out, finishing with a team-high 13 kills, and one spectacular dig in the final set.
Tomorrow, Minnesota will take on Cincinnati at 11 a.m. and Wyoming at 1 p.m. The doubleheader at Stan Sheriff Center will be free. The Challenge concludes Sunday at 5 p.m. with Hawai'i playing Cincinnati. A UH victory will give it the Challenge championship.