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Rainbow Wahine put WAC title on the line

By Ashley Nonaka

`Bows go for nine in a row

At stake - an automatic bid into the NCAA First and Second Rounds, but most importantly, it’s a chance for the Rainbow Wahine to showcase their skills in front of its home crowd. And also a chance for fans to see a showdown between teams who have so much on the line.

For the first time in Western Athletic Conference tournament history the No.6 Rainbow Wahine volleyball team will host the WAC volleyball tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center on Nov. 20, 21 and 23.

“We’re the sixth - ranked team in the country and we play for the school, we play for the students, as well as the state,” said Head Coach Dave Shoji.

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Senior outside hitter Jamie Houston, recorded 10 kills and had a service ace in the Rainbow Wahine three-set win over Utah Valley State at the Stan Sheriff Center. (Photo by Ashley Nonaka)

The `Bows will be defending its 9th consecutive WAC tournament title (1998 & 2001-2007) and they have never lost a game in the tournament and have remained a perfect 24-0 in tournament play since 1998. Although the Rainbow Wahine will be hosting the tournament, they will not be the top seed despite being ranked No.6 in the country.

But that hasn’t taken anything away from any of the `Bows.

“I’m really excited about hosting the WAC. It’s been five years since I’ve been here and it’s the first time we get to host it and that’s really cool,” said senior Libero Tara Hittle. “It’s good for us to be able to stay home.”

During the 1999 and 2000 seasons, a WAC tournament wasn’t held because the coaches voted to not have the tournament, so Hawai`i received an automatic bid for the WAC after securing the season conference titles, going a perfect 14-0 on the season in 1999 and 16-0 in 2000.

The Rainbow Wahine have held a nearly perfect win/loss record in the tournament and since 2001 they have never lost a match. The `Bows have lost a single set to the Nevada Wolfpack three times (in 2002, 2004 and 2005), the Fresno state Bulldogs once (in 2004) and once to the New Mexico State Aggies in 2006.

Last season the `Bows performed at their worse losing two sets to the Aggies, but were able to end the tournament with a perfect 3-0 win record. The `Bows have also remained the NCAA record leader in average home game attendance from 1994-2007.

“I think that our fans just love the sport of volleyball so much,” said senior outside hitter Jessica Keefe. “If there’s a good play on either side of the net, you get a round of applause whether it was our team making a great play or the other team.”

Fans attending the WAC Volleyball Tournament November 20-23 will also have the opportunity to register to win a WAC Prize Pack which includes a WAC Play Up shirt, an autographed volleyball (by the head coaches), a WAC hat and other WAC related items.

Fans can register throughout the tournament for their chance to win. After the tournament, WAC officials will draw one winner from the names entered , who will be contacted via telephone and arrangements will be made to have the prize pack delivered.

KFVE will broadcast Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. match, the two semifinal matches and the championship match live on KFVE. All matches of the tournament will also be streamed live on http://wac.tv.

Career Highlights

In the `Bows Halloween match-up against the Nevada Wolfpack, senior outside hitter, Jamie Houston surpassed former Rainbow Wahine and Olympian Teee Williams in career kills. Houston is now second on the all time career kills list with a total of 1,930 career kills.
“I never thought that I would be on that list, but it’s great to know that I’m on that list and that I’m between Olympians and hopefully one day I’ll be able to play with one of them,” Houston said.
In the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational against then No.9 Washington State, junior middle blocker, Amber Kaufman broke the school record for service aces in a match with 11 aces. In regards to the highlight of her season, Kaufman said, “Beating Washington and getting all those aces. It was awesome because it set the tone for the whole year.”

Rainbow Wahine WAC season records
Previous WAC Tournament sites

2001 WAC record = 13-0
2002 WAC record = 13-0
2003 WAC record = 13-0
2004 WAC record = 13-0
2005 WAC record = 16-0
2006 WAC record = 15-1
(Loss to New Mexico State)
2007 WAC record = 15-1
(Upset senior night game loss to Utah State)
2008 WAC record = 15-1
(Loss to New Mexico State)

2001-WAC tournament held in San Jose, CA.

2002-2006
- WAC tournament held in Reno, NV.

2007- WAC tournament held in Las Cruces, NM
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