SPU eliminated in first round

The SPU volleyball team returned to Seattle from the NCAA Pacific Regional tournament in San Bernardino, Calif., after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) on Nov. 15.

HPU, last year’s Division II champion, was the first team the Falcons were matched against in the regional tournament.

The Falcons entered the tournament seeded No. 5 against the fourth-seeded Hawaii Pacific Sea Warriors. The SPU women completed one of the goals they had set for themselves toward the end of the season by dominating the first game 30-26, but it did not take long for the Sea Warriors to display the skill that won them a national championship and PacWest conference championship in past years.

"They played with great composure," head coach Kellie Radloff said. "Hawaii Pacific is a great team, but I felt like we played them smartly, particularly in one game [the first game]."

After beating SPU, Hawaii Pacific lost their next match against Cal State San Bernadino, ending the Sea Warriors’ season.

Against Hawaii Pacific, senior middle blocker Leah Wiiest led the attack with a team-high 17 kills and 19 digs for the match. Following close behind, senior outside hitter Leilani Kamahoahoa and freshman middle blocker and outside hitter Cathleen Price both posted double-double numbers in kills and digs.

Despite the smart plays and admirable numbers posted by the Falcons, it was not enough to keep them alive in postseason play. After their first win, the Falcons could not hold on to a lead and gave up the next three games to HPU 30-22, 30-22 and 30-26.

The loss to HPU marks the end of a commendable season for the SPU women.

Even with a year plagued with injury and disappointment, the Falcons managed to have highlights here and there. Two seniors in particular added a little extra to make it a successful and unique year.

Kamahoahoa, despite sitting out a good part of the season with to a knee injury, broke the previous school record with a career total of over 1,340 digs and helped lead the team to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second straight year.

In addition, Wiiest was voted to the All-Pacific Region team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. All-Region players are eligible for the All-American team, which will be announced later this month.

With this season’s end and preparations beginning for next year, the Falcons will be left trying to fill the void in the lineup created by the team’s four graduating seniors.

With players such as Kamahoahoa and Wiiest, it will be a tough task to "fill in the blanks" for next year’s season, but Radloff has confidence in her returning players.

"This is just one more learning experience for us. We’re losing four great seniors, but our returning players know what it takes to get to the next level and we’ll be back."

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Title: SPU eliminated in first round | Author: Derek Ghan | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2001-11-28 | Internal ID: 2331