Hawaii women’s volleyball: Middles expand options for Wahine

Hawaii middle Tiffany Westerberg placed a kill past Denver’s Brianna Green in the fourth set Sunday. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

Talk about good problems to have.

The Hawaii volleyball team displayed as balanced an attack as it has so far this young season in Sunday’s four-set defeat of previously unbeaten Denver in the Heineken Rainbow Wahine Invitational.

With Sky Williams (10 kills, five blocks, tournament MVP) and Tiffany Westerberg (nine kills, .500 hitting) thriving in the middle to complement hitters Jolie Rasmussen, Brooke Van Sickle and Hanna Hellvig, UH had clean looks aplenty against the Pioneers.

When UH (6-0) wasn’t committing eight attack errors in dropping the second set 21-25, it pretty much had its way in taking the other three 25-16, 25-15, 25-18.

“Oh my gosh. It’s so much fun,” setter Bailey Choy said. “Obviously it makes my job hard because, if everyone’s doing well, who do I set? Then again, it makes it easy because I can set anyone.”

Williams has made dramatic strides. But Westerberg, a 6-foot-3 native of British Columbia, showed what she was capable of at the same time. Freshman middle Amber Igiede was quiet offensively but contributed three blocks.

Coach Robyn Ah Mow has by far her most options in the middle in her three-year tenure as head coach.

“In the last two years, yeah. Mags, (Emily) Maglio was the closest one,” Ah Mow said. “But yeah, it just opens up more offense, more things to run.

“As a coach, it feels great that you can go to anybody,” she said. “But Skyler, Skyler’s come a long way in the last two years. This year she’s pumping it up. And she’s doing great. I’m like, we need to get her the ball more. Get her the ball more. Look, we’re making them commit. They actually have to commit now. So Skyler’s doing awesome.”

On Westerberg, Ah Mow said: “She’s very athletic. And she can play off, she can play middle, right, left. Just maybe (we need) some more offense. I don’t know if it was the setter-hitter connection with Amber, maybe, maybe not. But just to get a new change in there. We did. She did pretty good. Good on the slides.”

Westerberg could sense her opportunities opening on those.

“For sure,” she said. “We had a lot of 1-on-1s tonight. We ran the slides, and there were a lot of 1-on-1s there. And so that was the opportunity that we just took advantage of.”

It was a new career high for the Canadian, who opened up the tournament with eight kills against Army.

“I think I’ve been doing a great job coming in, making points, doing whatever the team needs,” she said. “I think that’s what Coach Rob (wants), that’s why I was recruited. Coming in, doing your role, backing up whoever needs to be backed up.”


  1. nomu1001 September 8, 2019 9:52 pm

    Imho, this team has more depth and talent in the middle than any other. Except for coach Angelica, of course.

  2. darkfire35 September 8, 2019 11:45 pm

    Coach Robyn, Ang, Kaleo, et al. You all knew what you wanted. You got what you wanted. And now it shows. Coach Robyn, you knew what you wanted(per your pre-game show). Coach Kaleo and Ang delivered and we are now reaping the benefits of their labor.
    How much better is this victory where you can defeat a team that only had 1 set loss going into this match into a 3-1 match?!!!
    That recruiting has been HUGE! I cannot get more excited over a team that believes team first! Good job Robyn! Your team mentality in recruiting has paid off dividends! GO BOWS!!!

  3. H-Man September 9, 2019 6:57 am

    Kudos to coach Robyn for exploiting the middle attack. That middle connection between Choy and Williams is something to watch. I can’t recall a time that Shoji over the course of his 40-year career ever had a similar offense that centered on the middle. His offense was mainly the traditional left-side pin terminator with an effective opposite.

  4. iGrokSpock September 9, 2019 4:35 pm

    H-Man, career leaders in kills (from UH Athletics). #’s 6, 7 and 10 were middle hitters.

    6. Angelica Ljungquist 1993-96 437 1,570
    7. Suzanne Eagye 1984-87 478 1,553
    8. Therese Crawford 1994-97 394 1,467
    9. Reydan Ahuna 1984-87 475 1,411
    10. Deitre Collins 1980-83 322 1,385

  5. Willie September 9, 2019 5:31 pm

    Can the volleyball gurus explain why Washington is still ranked above the Wahine. I read that on the 1st poll, a lot of voters didn’t know that Washington lost to the Wahine. Now it’s said that Washington has beaten a former #6 ranked Illinois team, so they moved up even further. But if their 1st poll ranking didn’t take into account the Wahine victory and they shouldn’t have been ranked over Hawaii, what’s going on?

    I know Coach Robyn doesn’t care about rankings, but I’m confused.

  6. Cruisecontrol September 10, 2019 9:07 am

    5. That whole poll is confusing for everyone. You’re not alone.

  7. H-Man September 10, 2019 2:49 pm

    It’s, much thanks for the info-update. All were before yr 2000. Just shows my memory not so good.

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