TAMPA — Hawaii has come a long way to get to the national semifinals.
We're not talking just distance, either. (The trip from Honolulu is about 4,700 miles.) No, we're talking perception. Despite being ranked No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, Hawaii was one of the last of the 16 teams to be seeded.
"It was pretty upsetting that we were seeded 12th," senior outside hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru said during Wednesday's news conference at the St. Pete Times Forum. "But we've proved to everyone that we could be in the Final Four."
Her team is the lowest-seeded team to make it this far.
"I think initially everybody was disappointed in our seed, but once we got back to work in the practice gym, it didn't really matter where we got seeded," coach Dave Shoji said. "Of course, I had strong comments about it, but the players knew we had to go out and play.
"The one thing the seed did do for us was keep us away from Penn State or Texas in a regional. So that was a blessing that we had that opportunity maybe to get here and then play them, so in the long run, it was okay we got seeded where we did."
Did you know? Texas senior outside hitter Destinee Hooker, a first team coaches association All-American for the second straight year, is a four-time NCAA champion in the high jump. She teamed with her sister Marshevet Hooker, a 2008 Olympian, to lead the Longhorns to the 2006 indoor track and field championship.
Said Destinee: "Track and field is a very individual sport. With volleyball, I love building a bond with my teammates, giving energy and receiving energy from them."
Single-session tickets available: Instead of buying a tournament pass for $60, fans now can buy tickets for tonight's games or Saturday's final for $30 at the Times Forum box office or through Ticketmaster.
National acclaim: Penn State predictably dominated the coaches association Division I first-team All-America list with four picks: senior OH Megan Hodge, a four-time first-team pick; senior S Alisha Glass, junior OH Blair Brown, and junior MB Arielle Wilson.
Texas had two players on the first team, Hooker and senior S Ashley Engle, who were joined by fellow national semifinalists in sophomore OH Kanani Danielson (Hawaii) and junior MB Lauren Gibbemeyer (Minnesota).
Florida State senior MB Brianna Barry and Florida sophomore S Kelly Murphy were second-team selections. FSU senior MB Jordana Price, Florida senior libero Elyse Cusack and Duke sophomore S Kellie Catanach (Plant High and the daughter of longtime University of Tampa coach Chris Catanach) were honorable mention All-Americans.