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Fall Sports Preview: Sea Wirrior sports gear up for upcoming season

by Baxter Cepeda, Sports editor

The fall sports season at HPU is highlighted by two powerful programs - women’s volleyball and men and women’s cross country--and includes men’s and women’s club soccer play.

Women’s Volleyball

Women’s volleyball, which last won the Division II championship in 2000, began its season ranked 18 in D II with a team that could start up to four freshmen. So, is it a rebuilding year for this powerhouse program?

“I don’t want to call it a rebuilding year,” said Head Coach Tita Ahuna, entering her seventh year as the Lady Sea Warriors coach with a record of 130-34. But realistically, “It is difficult to bring in eight new players and say it’s not going to be a rebuilding year. Especially when five are freshmen.”

She added that she believes the new athletes are good enough to compete right away.

With a talented but inexperienced team, Ahuna is looking for leadership from Senior Susy Garbalati of Brazil and Junior Teisa Fotu of Laie, who will co-captain the team.

“Suzy is one of our best players. She’s an outstanding athlete, one of our go-to players and we are looking for her to show tremendous leadership skills out on the court,” Ahuna said. She added: “Teisa is also one of our go-to players. Her teammates look to her for leadership and guidance.”

Also returning are Juniors Katy Wilson, Davina Johnson, and Sophomore Helena Ward. The five new freshmen include outside hitters Ashley Elliazar of Mililani, Alyssa Collins of Flagstaff, Ariz., Briana Marinas of Waianae, setters Mahia Rawlins of Kaunakakai, and Vera Oliveira of Brazil. Defensive specialist Davina Dobson rejoins the team after a one-year hiatus. Sophomore transfers German Sandra Brunke from Arizona Western and Sweed Ida Soderlind from National American round out the new players.

“I have a very good mix of young athletic players who are willing to learn and work hard,” Ahuna said. “The veterans are great leaders and have instilled good work ethics in the younger girls.”

Returning for its second year is the rally-scoring format, where each play results in a point, over the side out scoring system. Rules added this year by the NCAA Women’s Rules Committee include the use of a libero player, a designed back-row player who cannot serve, attack, or set inside the attack line. Davina Dobson is the libero, or defensive specialist, on the Lady Sea Warrior team.

Since there will be no PacWest playoffs this year, the Lady Sea Warriors will have their hands full during the 10-game season if they want to ensure the conference’s only automatic berth to the NCAA II Pacific Regional’s in November. The task will surely not be easy as BYU-Hawai‘i moved from being unranked to #7 on Sept. 3 after upsetting DII national champions and #1 Barry University.

Cross Country

Cross country is running with high hopes for a successful season, with both the Men and Women’s programs looking for undefeated championship seasons in Division II.

The men already showed their abilities by taking the first four spots and six of the top seven spots at the Chaminade Invitational Sept. 7. “With the men we don’t have any competition,” said Head Coach Vienn Schwinn, entering her third year. “I think we are going to be undefeated.”

The men are led by Senior Christian Madsen of Denmark, Junior Abdeslam Naji of Morocco, Sophomore Robert Tyler of Houston, Texas, and Freshman Herald Buerkle of Austria. Lindsey Woodward of Newton Falls, Ohio is another freshman joining the squad.

The women also had a chance to go undefeated but they came in second to Div. I UH-Manoa on Sept 7. “For the women, our only competition is UH-Manoa,” said Shwinn. “We are far ahead of the other D II teams.”

Leading the way for the Lady Sea Warriors will be Junior Nina Christensen of Denmark, Sophomore Sayuri Kusutani of Japan, and Sophomore Janine Brown of the United Kingdom. The new freshmen on the woman’s squad are Rachelle Miller of Bend, Oregon and Masako Sagawa of Japan.

Soccer

Finally, HPU’s men and women’s club soccer teams are looking to have strong seasons once again. Frank Doyle returns to coach the men while Mark Kane is back to coach the women. The men play in the Men’s Island Soccer Organization, the Women in the Women’s Island Soccer Association. Both the men and women will have two teams each which will face each other in their respective leagues. The men will have a green and a white team, the latter being the more experienced team, while the women will have a green and a blue team, the latter being the more experienced team.

The women’s more experienced team will feature Carin Delaney, an All-California Junior College keeper. Returning on defense are Kaua Aiu and Ashley Hori, who will be joined by Freshman Karianne Pascua of Maryknoll H.S. “We have solid defenders returning,” Kane said. “We also have a good freshman on D.”

In the middle, the coach calls Jill Fujimoto “our steady in the midfield.” Fujimoto also excels when she gets to the front: “She’s got a good, strong finish,” added Kane. The women’s less experienced team is mostly comprised of: “Younger players learning to play,” Kane said. Although they will get experience from Player-Coach Sandy Chang and Kolea Andreas-Feeney, both All PacWest conference players in ’99 at defense and midfield, respectively, the last year HPU soccer competed in NCAA Div. II.

On the men’s pitch, the white team will get good defense from Kurt Vereecke and Christos Kyritsis. Adolfo Gentil and Darren Juliano, also on the white team, should have solid seasons in the midfield.Up front, the Sea Warriors are hoping Senior Eli Sauma scores another 50 plus goals this year. Sauman led the state in scoring last season as HPU took the MISO title.

Pepe Ballina, men's assistant coach in charge of the green team said: "Basically they are trying to find a spot on the white team."

 

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