The Rainbow Wahine Volleyball team opens their regular season this Friday against Idaho. They've had a rocky start in the three pre-season tournaments that they've hosted this year. They are also figuring out how to fill up the win column without the amazing setter Kanoe Kamana'o, the hard-hitting Sarah Mason, and the all-around Cayley Thurlby.
Every year, people talk about OH Jamie Houston. Her Freshman year, they were promoting her as possibly the next Kim Willoughby. She has some shining moments, but I'm actually a little disappointed. Here's why: she's not consistent and she doesn't play smart. Notice they talk about her high-number kills, but not her kill percentage. She's a tough hitter, when she makes it in. She's a good blocker and passer, but sometimes she steps in the libero's way. I thought she really earned the MVP in the game against Wichita but most of the time she gets the honors far too often than she earns it. She's in her junior season and with the way people talk about her, I'm hoping she proves them right this year. Without Kamana'o, she's going to have to show that she can make the kill even off of a not-so-good set.
They also like to throw in Ka'aihue's numbers. So far she has been one of those players whose numbers don't really speak for their play. I mean that she's good at digging the ball straight in the air, which Brandt has to get to, and most of her digs come at Brandt at a low angle. She'll get the stats, but not with good, steady, and few spectacular plays. Ka'aihue doesn't impress me so much that I would want to watch her play instead of Jayme Lee. She doesn't do anything that Lee wouldn't do and Lee does things that Ka'aihue hasn't shown she can do yet, and Ka'aihue's supposed to have the height advantage.
So what about Lee makes her my VB hero? I have to admit here that I'm a little biased because I'm about the same height as Lee. If only they had the libero position when I was younger... I still wouldn't be good enough to play college VB! But for now I'll live vicariously by watching Lee.
But really, Lee was fantastic last year! I would say, aside from Kamana'o, Lee was the MVP of the entire 2006 season! She more than makes up for any inches she lacks. She dives, she digs, she puts it up right to the setter, she's great with covering her hitters. I'd want to play like Jayme Lee!
Players to watch:
Juliana Sanders, Sr. MB: I can't imagine what it must be like to be a 6'2 female. I like the face she gets when she's determined, it's intimidating, even when watching her on TV! So far in the pre-season, she's been building up her block numbers and getting in the kills, what's needed in a great MB.
Tara Hittle, Jr. OH: who knows what might have happened if she hadn't gotten injured last season, but she's back, shaking off a little rust, and helping to stabilize the passing. She hasn't had a great start yet, but I know she's just getting warmed up.
Aneli Cubi-Otineru, So. H: This is the one that people should be talking about! She's exciting to watch and I can't believe she's just a sophomore. We'll get to watch her for two more seasons after this one. She's consistent, a good passer, and a smart hitter. And I have to like an athlete that looks and points up after each kill, giving credit to God [Okay, not all people care about that kind of stuff, you might not, but I do]. She'll be a big reason why things open up for Houston to be the kill leader most matches.
Amber Kaufman, So., H/MB: she was exciting to watch last season whenever she got court time and I've been waiting for her to get more. It looks like that wish will finally be granted, though at a price. Last season she filled in the right-side and was effective there. By the end of this past tournament, she filled in for Kari Gregory in the middle. While I just want to see Amber play, anywhere, it's a little bitter-sweet because Gregory is usually a great blocker but for some reason, she wasn't effective against those teams. We'll see if Amber gets the nod to start against Idaho. Last season, she killed, she blocked, and I can tell she just enjoys it all!
And I've already mentioned Jayme Lee. She's enough reason to catch the matches this weekend. Now to find someone to go with me... GO 'BOWS!