Posted with permission, article and pictures, courtesy of University of Hawaii Hilo
Vulcans voted No. 6 in PacWest Preseason Coaches Poll as season gets underway this weekend.
HILO, Hawai’i – Game day has come quickly for the 2022 Hawai’i Hilo women’s volleyball team as it’ll travel to O’ahu this weekend for the two-day Hawai’i-Alaska Challenge with matchups against Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage to begin the new season.
The Vulcans opened camp just over a week ago with 10 returners welcoming seven newcomers after the departures of seven players from the 2021 squad that finished 17-7 overall and 14-6 in the Pacific West Conference for a fourth-place finish.
“We had a lot of seniors graduate so it’s definitely going to be a new group, but I think we’re meshing really well,” senior setter Kendall Kott said. “Feels like a good family so far and we’re excited to work together.”
2022 will be head coach Chris Leonard‘s fourth year in charge of the program where he’s already compiled a 54-17 record at a .761 win-percentage mark. It’ll also be the quickest turnaround to the start of the season during his tenure.
“It’s tough, and then adding seven new players at the same time trying to put all those pieces together with a really short turnaround and a really, really challenging non-conference schedule makes for some challenges,” Leonard said. “But I think it’s good for us. We’re excited to play some high-level competition early. It’s going to set the bar really high for us early and we’re going to see where we are.”
|NAME||POS||YR||2021 EXP||2021 STATS|
|Kendall Kott||SET||Sr.||24 Matches, 90 Sets||50 Kills, 954 Assists, 11 Aces, 260 Digs, 36 Blocks|
|Tani Hoke||LIB||Jr.||24 Matches, 90 Sets||3 Kills, 77 Assists, 33 Aces, 437 Digs|
|Samara Cruz||OH||Jr.||23 Matches, 78 Sets||204 Kills, 5 Assists, 21 Aces, 217 Digs, 18 Blocks|
|Madelyn Blandford||DS||So.||18 Matches, 58 Sets||3 Assists, 9 Aces, 148 Digs|
|Imeleta Ale||MB/OH||Jr.||11 Matches, 14 Sets||2 Kills, 1 Assists, 1 Ace, 1 Dig, 5 Blocks|
|Cara Bolte||OPP||Sr.||8 Matches, 8 Sets||4 Kills, 1 Assist, 1 Block|
|Mia Takai||DS||Sr.||3 Matches, 3 Sets||2 Digs|
|Chloe Culanding||OPP||Jr.||3 Matches, 3 Sets||1 Ace, 1 Dig|
|Nikki Logan||OPP||Jr.||1 Match, 1 Set|
|Imani Lee||DS/OH||Fr.||Glen A. Wilson HS||Hacienda Heights, Calif.|
|Isabella Hadaller||OH||Fr.||Kelso HS||Kelso, Wash.|
|Emerson Reinke||SET||Fr.||Ralston Valley HS||Arvada, Colo.|
|Sophia Charpentier||MB/OPP||Fr.||Rosemount HS||Rosemount, Minn.|
|Taylor Tullo||OH||So.||West Valley College||Santa Clara, Calif.|
|Kamryn Childs||OH/MB||Jr.||Utah State University Eastern||Syracuse, Utah.|
|Mahina Kenoi||DS/OH||Sr.||Orange Coast College||Hilo, Hawai’i|
The Vulcans were voted to finish No. 6 in the PacWest Preseason Coaches Poll released Wednesday morning.
Defending champion Chaminade was voted as the top team with Azusa Pacific, Biola and Concordia Irvine each receiving lone first-place votes.
Additionally, no UH Hilo players were named to the All-PacWest Preseason Team.
“We know that we can play, we know that we can compete, and at the end of the day, it’s really not about where they put us in the beginning of the season — it’s where we finish and we know we’ve got some work to do,” Leonard said. “We’ve got a lot of new pieces. They don’t know the new pieces. I think some of our players will surprise some coaches in this league and we’re hopeful we can put it all together in a way that we’ll have an opportunity to improve upon that preseason poll.”
Last year, the Vulcans were voted to finish as conference runner-up.2022 PacWest Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll2022 All-PacWest Volleyball Preseason Team
Hawai’i Hilo’s Kott is just 13 assists away from setting a new all-time school record. The senior from Shingle Springs, Calif. currently sits at No. 2 with 2,820 career assists behind Sienna Davis’ (2013-16) 2,833.
As a freshman, Kott set the single-season school record after accumulating 1,274 assists in 2019.
“It’s pretty crazy that it’s happened this quickly; the beginning of my senior season and it’s already this close to breaking that record,” Kott said. “It’ll happen during the season so it’s not on my mind. It’s mostly, ‘how are we going to work together as a team and do well this season together?'”
Kott finished 2021 ranked No. 3 in the conference with 954 total assists at a 10.60 assists-per-set chip.
She’s also the lone senior who has had significant playing time and one of three returnees bringing a wealth of experience to this year’s team.
The Vulcans volleyball team starts the season with a two-game slate this weekend on O’ahu.
First is Alaska Fairbanks on Friday, Aug. 19 at 1 p.m. at Chaminade University’s McCabe Gymnasium, followed by Saturday’s 10 a.m. matchup with Alaska Anchorage at Hawai’i Pacific University’s Shark Tank in Manoa.
The Fairbanks Nanooks went 18-12 a year ago while the Anchorage Seawolves finished 19-12 with a NCAA West Regional appearance. Seawolves were voted to finish third in the 2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Poll while the Nanooks were picked at the No. 6 slot.
UAF has seven returnees but just one starter returning. UAA returns nine players and five starters.