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Heart, health HPU's post season hopes

by Kalamalama staff

Halloween night turned into a bad dream for the HPU Lady Sea Warriors volleyball team.

HPU limped to Laie, after dropping two consecutive conference matches to University Hawai‘i-Hilo and Chaminade, and fell to Brigham Young-Hawai‘i, 19-30, 20-30, 28-30 in a Pacific West Conference match at Cannon Activities Center.

The win clinched the conference title for BYU-H (18-2, 9-0) and assured them an automatic berth in the NCAA II national tourney. HPU (15-5, 6-3), ranked No. 17 in the AVCA top 25 coaches poll, clings to an outside chance of receiving an at-large invitation.

The top six teams in each region advance to the tourney, and HPU was ranked sixth in the last Pacific region poll taken Oct. 22. But that was before the injury-plagued Lady Sea Warriors dropped three consecutive conference matches. The next regional poll will be released Nov. 5.

HPU faces BYU-H in the final two games of the 2003 regular season, traveling back to Laie for a non-conference match Nov. 7, and hosting the Lady Seasiders Nov. 15 in a conference match at St. Andrew’s Priory. The best HPU can do is sweep its remaining games with the conference champion and hope the regional pollsters take notice. It helps that Chaminade and UH-Hilo both lost their matches this weekend.

Injuries sink HPU efforts

Prior to the UH-Hilo match Oct. 25, HPU was 15-2 and a perfect 6-0 in conference matches. But numerous injuries caught up with the team and forced Head Coach Tita Ahuna to shuffle her lineup.
The Lady Sea Warriors battled the usual nagging injuries all sports team deal with through a tough campaign: sore muscles, bumps, bruises, the usual. But in the Oct. 19 match against UH-Hilo, the “Quarterback” went down and sent the team into a tailspin. Setter Vera Olivera, a two-time PacWest Player of the Week, suffered a lower right leg strain in the second set of that match.

Olivera, a 5-10 sophomore from Londrina, Brazil, hadn’t missed a game in her two seasons in a green-and- blue uniform. She wasn’t able to play until the BYU-H match, and in that she was far less than 100 percent.

Outside hitter/middle blocker Nadica Karleusa, sprained an ankle in practice prior to the UH-Hilo match and had to sit it out. The 6-2 sophomore from Belgrade, Yugoslavia leads the team with a .306 attack percentage and is second in team kills at 284.

Flavia Brakling, a 6-0 OH from Sao Paulo, Brazil who leads the Lady Sea Warriors with 310 kills and 181 defense digs, went down with a sprained ankle in the Oct. 28 loss to Chaminade.

Brazilian teammates Paula Nascimento (OH) and Paula Koikopoulos (MB) have missed playing time due to back spasms and a hyper extended elbow, respectively. Several more players are playing with nagging ailments. Any local company that markets athletic wraps in the HPU team colors should see a high-profit margin for this quarter.


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