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Lady Sea Warriors lead conference

by Alisha "Ano" Puchalski, staff writer

HPU continued its Pac-West winning streak Sept. 24, slamming the Chaminade University Silver Swords in four sets, 30-18, 23-30, 30-25, 30-25, for the Swords first regular-season loss. The HPU volleyball team, in its quest for this year’s Pac-West and NCAA II titles, has swept away all the competition except No. 1 ranked, Nebraska-Kearney where HPU fell short 2-3 in a hard fought five matches. The Lady Sea Warriors, currently ranked No. 8 in the 2004 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll and No.1 in the conference with a record of 9-1 on the season (3-0 in the conference).

Helping the team to its success Friday night was two-time Pac-West Conference first team setter Vera Oliveira who hit .333 percent with 41 assists, 12 digs, eight block assists, three service aces, and six kills. Oliveira was also named Pac-West Conference “Player of the Week” Sept. 27, 2004, making it her third Player of the Week honor since 2003.

Also coming out to help was HPU middle blocker and 2003 Pacific Regional All-Tournament Team Player, Barbara Martin, who earned a .333 hitting percentage that night, with 10 blocks, nine digs, and eight kills. Martin currently leads the conference with a .464 hitting percentage.

Defensive specialist and Hawaii born starter from Moloka’i, Mahealani Rawlins, kept the team afloat by protecting the back court with a game high eight digs in match two.

Topping the game for a combined 34 kills were outside hitters Nadica Karleusa (11 kills), Sandra Brunke (10 kills), and 2003 AVCA/NCAA II All-American, Flavia Brakling (13 kills).

HPU currently leads the nation with a .353 team hitting percentage. Coach Reydan “Tita” Ahuna returns in her ninth season as HPU volleyball head-coach for the Sea Warriors with a 170-52 record, making her HPU’s most successful winning coach. Ahuna, who is also HPU’s Senior Women Administrator, expects great things from this years team who she believes has an excellent on and off the court chemistry, crucial to any teams success. “They get along well and play well together,” said Ahuna.

With 10 returnees (two seniors, and the rest underclassmen) from last year’s team and a few new-comers, HPU can look forward to more exciting Sea Warrior Volleyball this year. The towering height of many of HPU’s players this year makes for interesting court play.

It’s “one of the tallest (teams) we’ve had,” said Ahuna, which makes this year’s team “very intimidating at the net.” The lady Sea Warriors are considered “favored to win the conference,” by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Following the excitement of the Sept. 24 game against Chaminade was the outpouring of school support by fans of both teams. Chaminade fans wore dark-blue t-shirts with the words “WILL CHEER FOR FREE,” printed in white across the front as they taunted HPU fans. However, they were easily outdone by Sea Warrior fans who wore HPU t-shirts, waved school colored pom-poms (Kelly-Green and Columbia-Blue), and chimed in with the cheer and dance teams as they did their routines during key points in the game.

Certain members of HPU’s “Spirit Club” even went so far as to decorate themselves with “warrior” paint in show of support. “The fans are getting crazier,” said HPU COM graduate and former Sea Warrior softball player Rachel Lacar, “who knows what we (HPU fans) will be seeing next.”


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