UH-Hilo Volleyball Projected to Finish Tenth in PacWest
The University of Hawai`i at Hilo women’s volleyball team isn’t given much of a shot to win the PacWest Conference title this season.
The tenth place projection by the conference’s coaches, released Thursday during PacWest Conference Volleyball Media Day, is understandable considering that the Vulcans return just four players from last season’s 4-17 squad.
“If you go by history, it’s probably appropriate,” said Tino Reyes, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Vulcans’ volleyball program. He has higher expectations for his ladies than a tenth place finish, however.
“If you say we think that we’re going to finish there, I don’t think so,” added Reyes. “They (the coaches) don’t have any kind of information that we have, so I feel we are going to be a lot better than tenth.”
The veteran coach’s job is undoubtedly tough this season with just one senior, defensive specialist Kelia Parilla, returning from last season. Two juniors, Shelby Harguess and Abbey Wade, and sophomore Autumn Chong, round out the veterans who return to the team.
Noticeably missing from this year’s squad is Bria Morgan, the conference’s top freshman of the year last season. Morgan led all hitters in NCAA Division II competition with 5.16 kills per set.
According to Reyes, Morgan transferred to Cabrillo College, a junior college located in Soquel, CA.
Several players with Big Island roots will look to earn valuable playing time when practice begins Monday. Ka`u High School graduate Marley Nicolaisen-Strand and Hawai`i Community College transfer Kahealani Vento-Rowe are early candidates to be thrown into the fire at the start of the season. Vento-Rowe graduated from Hilo High School in 2010.
Brigham Young University-Hawai`i was picked to successfully defend last season’s championship. The Seasiders finished last season with a 25-4 record and a loss to top-seeded Concordia-St. Paul in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
The Seasiders are undergoing a rare change at the top. Mona Ah Hoy replaces legendary head coach Wilfred Navalta, a graduate of Laupahoehoe High School. Navalta retired after 27 seasons at the helm of the successful Laie program. He was named NCAA Division II Coach of the Year last season by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
That change has not affected the expectations of the program. Along with the PacWest preseason ranking, the Seasiders were ranked fifth in the AVCA Division II Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Vulcans open their season on Thursday, Aug. 29 with a home game against Alaska Fairbanks. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. UH-Hilo has five consecutive home games to open the season.
PacWest Volleyball projected order of finish
Points received and first place votes listed next to each school
1. BYU-Hawai`i – 161(9)
2. Fresno Pacific – 154 (3)
3. California Baptist – 145 (1)
4. Azusa Pacific – 127
5. Hawai`i Pacific – 118
6. Point Loma Nazarene – 102
7. Dixie State – 76
8. Academy of Art – 75
9. Holy Names – 64
10. Hawai`i Hilo – 52
11. Chaminade – 45
12. Dominican (CA) – 44
13. Notre Dame de Namur – 20
Preseason All-Pacwest Volleyball Team
Libero – Hannah Butler (Fresno Pacific)
Setter – Ying Chun Chen (BYU-Hawai`i)
Outside Hitter / Middle Blocker – Shih Ting Chen (BYU-Hawai`i)
Middle Blocker – Erh Fang Tsu (BYU-Hawai`i)
Outside Hitter – Rupia Inck (Fresno Pacific)
Outside Hitter – Kelli LeClair (Point Loma Nazarene)
Middle Blocker – Malika O`Brien (California Baptist)
Preseason Player of the Year – Ying Chun Chen (BYU-Hawai`i)
Preseason Libero of the Year – Hannah Butler (Fresno Pacific)