Wahine to open with Texas … and sand

January 23rd, 2013

I was surprised that it would be Texas but … this is Ann’s story from Wednesday’s paper. Hagin’s departure buried at the bottom.

Dave Shoji isn’t messing around with his 2013 volleyball schedule. At Monday’s Rainbow Wahine banquet, he dropped the news to his team that Hawaii would open Aug. 30 against NCAA champion Texas.

The schedule is not finalized, but Shoji said he is “99 percent sure” UH will open against the Longhorns, who swept Oregon last month to capture their third national title, but first since they defeated Hawaii in the 1988 NCAA final.

Both Hawaii (Emily Maeda) and Texas (Sha’Dare McNeal) lost just one senior. The Wahine could return eight seniors, including first-team All-American Emily Hartong. The Longhorns will have four, including Bailey Webster — the final four’s most outstanding player — and Hawaii Baptist Academy graduate Sarah Palmer.

Shoji has 25 dates scheduled and hopes to reach the NCAA maximum of 28. UCLA, San Diego, Arizona, Northwestern and New Mexico State will also be here.

Tickets will go on sale soon for a March 15 exhibition against Texas Tech at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Red Raiders lost two seniors off last year’s 14-18 team.

The second sand volleyball season could start that same day. Coach Scott Wong hopes to announce his schedule soon. He already has a roster and it looks little like last year. There are 11 full-time sand players — eight more than the inaugural season. All but two are transfers. Ten indoor players fill the roster.

The best of the transfers may be Brittany Tiegs, who helped Florida State finish third at the inaugural AVCA National Championships. Tiegs was named to the first Sand Volleyball All-America team, along with Hawaii’s Jane Croson. Tiegs did not receive her release from FSU and will redshirt this season.

The other new players are eligible, including Hawaii Pacific transfers Natasha Bell and Ku‘ulei Zalopany, and Karlee Riggs. She was named the Orange Empire Conference Most Valuable Player last month for her sophomore indoor season at Orange Coast College.

Arizona announced last week that it would add a sand team, joining Pac-12 programs Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC. Nebraska became the first Big Ten sand team. There will be 29 programs competing this year, nearly double last year. Another 47 are considering adding the sport in 2014, according to Arizona officials.

A sport achieves NCAA status after 40 teams have competed two consecutive seasons. Pepperdine won the first national championship, beating Long Beach State last spring.

The UH sand team is in its third week of practice. The Hawaii indoor team is in the midst of individual workouts without Stephanie Hagins, a 6-foot-4 reserve middle. She left school after transferring to UH from Washington State last year. Spring team practice starts next month.

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