'Bows handle Arizona
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Arizona volleyball
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
It counted for nothing and had more than a few "funky" moments, but Hawai'i got what it wanted out of last night's exhibition volleyball match with Arizona.
The Rainbow Wahine won, 25-19, 24-26, 26-24, 25-13. More important, three months after ending its season in the final four and several bodies short, Hawai'i looked surprisingly good in some areas — particularly after so little practice.
Most obvious to a Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 1,808 was All-American Kanani Danielson's 20 kills, which included a breathtaking second-set performance.
Next would be the 66 digs the 'Bows threw at Arizona, which had 20 less. Most came from libero Liz Ka'aihue (22), which is not a surprise, and setter Dani Mafua, whose 21 nearly doubled her career high.
"In general, I thought their ballhandling and ball control is really superior, very good," said Arizona coach Dave Rubio. "A team like us, trying to get our big kids to play defense and pass those guys are much further ahead than we are."
Rubio, who admitted his team's "frustration level" led to a lack of team chemistry, was more impressed with Mafua's offense than defense.
"Dani does a terrific job running that squad," Rubio said. "She's so athletic and she's able to really put the ball in attack-able positions on passes that are less than perfect."
UH coach Dave Shoji's sights were set on hitter and defensive specialist last night. He got 14 kills from transfer Chanteal Satele.
"Just getting more comfortable, nervousness going away," explained Satele, who hit .600 the final two sets. "It just disappeared. Thank God it disappeared."
Corinne Cascioppo, weakened by flu earlier in the week, played on the left the first two sets and took the final set off, finishing with six kills.
That provided one of what Danielson termed many "funky" moments. UH senior Stephanie Brandt, who completed her eligibility, was pressed into service. The 'Bows' backup setter had two kills from the right-side hitting position in Cascioppo's place.
Satele and Cascioppo, along with some of the five freshmen who will show up in the fall, will have to make up for the loss of All-America senior Aneli Cubi-Otineru and Stephanie Ferrell, who has been granted her release. Hawai'i also has to replace senior middle Amber Kaufman and Brandt, one of the team's best defenders and servers and an all-conference setter.
Danielson served seven of UH's points in a one-sided opening set, with Mafua (7) and Ka'aihue (8) contributing 15 digs.
But Danielson's eight kills and seven digs, and 15 more digs from Mafua and Ka'aihue, along with two set points, were not enough in the second set. Arizona scored the final four with Tiffany Owens doing most of the damage.
Hawai'i took revenge on that rally with one of its own in Set 3. Courtney Karst — the only underclassman the Wildcats started — lifted her team to set point at 24-20 with four late kills, a spectacular save near the antenna and an ace.
When she missed her next serve, the 'Bows battled back. Alex Griffiths served an ace and Danielson blasted her 18th kill after a Ka'aihue dig. Owens hit out to erase the fourth set point and tie it at 24. Satele drilled the last two kills.
The Rainbow Wahine scored six of the first seven in the final set and never wavered.
The Wildcats, who ended last season in the NCAA Tournament's first round at 19-11, are here for eight days of training.
Hawai'i opens its 2010 season at home Aug. 27.