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By Marcie Kagawa. November 7, 2011 - 6:03 pm
Many teams thrive on the star power of one or two players, but stars aren’t what make this season’s women’s volleyball team shine.
“We are good because everyone contributes,” said Head Coach Daryl Kapis, who also serves as HPU’s assistant athletic director. “We don’t have a lot of star power, where you would look to just one player. Offensively, it can come from any player on any given night. We’re very balanced.”
Some nights, the outside hitters post the high kill counts, while on others the middle blockers make the big hits. Where a player can contribute depends on the opponent, said Kapis. “We pinpoint weaknesses. Every defense has a weakness. Then we see where we think a player will do well.”
A look at this season’s statistics reflects that. Five of the team’s players, senior outside hitter Natasha Bell, who was named to the All-PacWest Second Team last season; junior outside hitter Sanoe Recca; senior middle blocker Courtney Curran; freshman middle blocker Haley Doerfler; and senior right side hitter Brittney Wood, have posted triple-digit kills.
This well-rounded offense is assisted by junior setter Pihana Kea, who garnered Honorable Mention honors last season, and complemented by a strong defense, led by senior defensive specialist Kyra Pelayo. Last season, Pelayo was named PacWest Libero of the Year, and was also named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-America Women’s Volleyball Team.
The success of this season’s team comes in large part from its experience and chemistry. Curran, who transferred to HPU last year, said, “This year’s team is one of the most fun teams I’ve played on over the course of my career. We only lost two seniors last year, meaning we had a core group of returners to pick up on and continue to work with.”
Kapis also noted that his team this year is more experienced and mentally mature, with six seniors and two juniors.
“Players gain so much experience with every game they play. We have a higher level of play this year because we have many returning starters.” Of the seven starters this season, six played for Kapis last year. This experience especially helps the team cope with the difficulties of playing on the road.
“It’s hard on the road,” said Kapis, “so every win you get is a big deal.”
A good team doesn’t grow without a dedicated coaching staff. Kapis, in his sixth season coaching the HPU women’s volleyball team, says he loves what he does.
Kapis, the only man on the team, said he and his assistant coach, Kahala Kabalis and graduate assistant, Marri Crockett, balance each other.
“We work well together and have many years of coaching experience between us.”
With this year’s experienced starting line-up, odds of making it to the post-season are looking good, says senior middle blocker Curran.
“We are more motivated than any team I’ve been on to keep up the wins in order to make it to post-season play. No one wants to play hard and lose, no one wants to play hard to win second place. This team, having six seniors with that common goal, makes it that much more achievable. We’ve got all the tools to get there, it’s just a matter of doing it.”
HPU is 14-8 (wins to losses) on the season overall, and 9-4 in the PacWest. The team won against Hilo Hawaii, 3-2 on Oct.14 and recently lost to California Baptist, 1-3 on Oct. 20 and Grand Canyon University, 0-3 on Oct. 22. HPU wrapped up its road trip in Utah wining against Dixie State in both games Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.
On Halloween, the team defeated Dominican in straight sets; 25-18; 25-14; 25-16. They play a two-game series against Academy of Art on Nov. 3 and 6 at 7 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. All games will be played at the St. Andrew’s Priory gym.
HPU’s senior night against rival BYU will be Nov. 12 at the St. Andrew’s Priory gym. That game starts at 7 p.m.
Kapis has already started looking towards next season. Even with the loss of six seniors, Kapis said his team for next year is starting to take shape.
Three of this year’s starters will be returning, and HPU has already started recruiting. HPU has signed two high school standouts, with a third prospect in the works.
“We’re getting in great players for next season,” said Doerfler, middle blocker, “so we have a good chance of having a great team next year as well.”