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Ladies top UH-H, lose to BYU-H, USCD

by Ano Puchalski and Chuck Cordill, staff writers

HPU’s women’s volleyball said aloha to seniors Sandra Brunke and Paula Nacimento who played their last home game against Brigham Young University-Hawai‘i Nov. 9 at the Neal Blaisdell Arena.

Although the Lady Sea Warriors lost three of their last five matches to BYU-H, they managed to hand the Seasiders one of their worst losses in the history of BYU-H volleyball, 30-10 in set two.


Nacimento, a 6-2 international business major from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, accomplished six digs for the ladies against the Seasiders.

Nacimento graduated from Institute Padre Machado High School where she helped lead her team to two championships and was named to the All-State Tournament Team where she earned top awards. She then attended Lake Land Junior college in Mattoon, Ill. and helped that team to its first regional championship.

Nacimento’s advice for next year’s players: “Be ready to adapt to new things, especially if you’re a foreigner.” Of her team, Nacimento said: “The atmosphere was good,” and “the girls were awesome.”

Brunke, also a 6-2 outside-hitter, said that “Playing here in Hawai‘i is like playing in Paradise.” She has her B.S.B.A. and is now working towards her M.B.A. in Travel Industry Management.

Brunke lettered in volleyball at Goethe High in her hometown of Potsdam, Germany. Her team captured every regional tournament title, helping Brunke earn a spot on Potsdam’s first women’s volleyball team. Brunke attended Arizona Western College in Yuma where she helped her team place 10th in the nation at the NJCAA National Championships.

Against BYU-H, Brunke posted the team’s highest attack percentage, .667, and accomplished six kills and two digs. Of HPU volleyball, she said: “It’s kind of different from Germany, with its millions of rules and regulations.” Of her team, Brunke said: “I loved the atmosphere, and I’m going to miss that for sure. I had three really nice seasons.”

HPU’s loss to the Seasiders counted towards the Lady Sea Warriors regular season record and not their conference record.

HPU’s seniors played in their last regular season collegiate games on the Big Island, Nov. 12 and 13, against University of Hawai‘i-Hilo. The Lady Sea Warriors won both games against the Vulcan’s, sweeping UHH, 30-21, 30-28, 30-26, in game one, and 30-18, 30-21, 30-20 in game two. Nacimento and Brunke accomplished 14 kills, four blocks, and three digs for both games, and HPU solidified its spot as PacWest Champions.

Head Coach Tita Ahuna was not surprised at winning this year’s PacWest title and competing for the NCAA championship. She said early in the season that HPU was capable of doing it.

However, HPU fell to UC San Diego 19-30, 30-26, 23-20, 30-28, and 15-11 in a grueling semifinal match Nov 19 at the NCAA II Pacific Regional played at UCSD’s RIMAC Arena.

With the win, the Tritons avenged last year’s semifinal loss to the Lady Sea Warriors in the same regional. HPU, the fifth-seed and Pacific West Conference champion, finished the season at 20-4. UCSD advanced to the Regional Championships, where they fell to second-seeded UC San Bernardino.

HPU middle blocker Barbara Martin led all players in a blistering effort, hammering 25 kills for a .370 attack average, as well as fielding 11 digs and nine blocks. Three more Lady Sea Warriors scored in double digits. PacWest Player-of-the-Year Vera Oliveira led the match with 67 assists.


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