'Bows start to settle in
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
A visit yesterday to Clearwater Beach, Fla., was about all the University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team will do before focusing in on the reason it is in Florida in the first place.
"This is it today," said Hawai'i coach Dave Shoji during a phone call yesterday from the "little beach town."
The No. 3 Rainbow Wahine (32-2) will play top-ranked Penn State (36-0), which is on a 100-match win streak, tomorrow at 4 p.m. Hawai'i time in a semifinal of the NCAA final four in Tampa Bay, Fla.
Today, they will do "a bunch of administrative things," like television interviews, the final four banquet and practice. The players are also juggling volleyball and taking finals like the rest of their classmates back in Hawai'i. Most took finals yesterday and will continue today, administered by an academic advisor.
The team arrived in Tampa on Monday and did a "little cardio workout." The players completed a full practice yesterday at the University of Tampa, touching the ball for the first time since Saturday's victory over Michigan in the Stanford Regional final.
"I think we had our normal Tuesday practice. After taking a couple of days off, we're not really sharp in the gym, but I think by tomorrow we'll be better," Shoji said.
Senior middle Amber Kaufman, who is dealing with an abdominal strain, did not practice yesterday and is not expected to practice today. She did "very little warm up Saturday, so we'll probably try the same thing (tomorrow) and see if she can go," Shoji.
Last night the team did its first film session on the Nittany Lions. It will begin match preparation in today's practice and a one-hour session tomorrow.
"Each of their players has something we can build on to try to break down," Shoji said. "All have some weakness in their game and that's what we'll try to exploit."
The Rainbow Wahine enjoyed a "mellow celebration" after Saturday's sweep of Michigan.
"There was very little celebrating," Shoji said. "I think people were so drained and tired there wasn't that usual euphoria, I just think everybody was happy ... but tired."
The reason could be that the team wasn't content with just reaching the final four.
"Maybe we had the idea that we had more work to do than be so happy about just that one win," he said.
Shoji said the players were so focused on Saturday's match that they were drained Sunday and spent the time in Stanford, Calif., resting and gathering their thoughts.
"We were still on a high mentally," he said.