Karaitiana gives Rainbow Wahine a triple threat

Ashleigh Karaitiana was describing the role she envisions for her senior season when Shawna-Lei Kuehu, sitting to her left in the Stan Sheriff Center green room, interjected.

“Ashleigh’s going to be a triple-threat,” Kuehu said. “She’s going to have the drive, the shot and the defense.”

Karaitiana did much of her scoring in threes in Sunday’s Green vs. White scrimmage while posting a team-high 18 points before a crowd of about 1,000 that stuck around after the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team’s win over UC Santa Barbara.

The 6-foot wing player went 7-for-16 from the field for the Green team, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. She led the Wahine with 39 3-pointers last season while shooting 38.2 percent from behind the arc.

She finished second on the team with 10.4 points per game while coming off the bench in 22 of UH’s 31 games and is in line for a spot in UH’s first five as a senior.

To supplement the shots she takes in practice, Karaitiana said she’ll make time for extra shooting three times a week. But she’s looking to provide a multi-dimensional game in “being a shooter and a scorer also trying to be a defensive threat.”

“(Sydney Haydel) was that person last year and I sort of want to go into that role,” she said.

Karaitiana scored her first basket on Sunday on a putback and her second on a drive down the lane before finding the range from outside. She also led the Green with seven rebounds and was credited with four steals and a blocked shot.

Even so, Kuehu led the White to the 58-45 win with 14 points and 12 rebounds and had two steals and two blocks.

“It was really fun playing against them and competing,” Kuehu said. “We’ve talked a lot against each other, the Green and White team going back and forth, so it was good to see what we could really do on the court.”

With eight new players on the roster, Kuehu said “the first couple weeks we had little rough time adjusting to how they play and adjusting to the system.

“Right now we’re all bought in and we like each other so that’s a good thing on and off the court. We’re playing to each other’s strengths so we’re knowing how to put each other into those positions.

“Right now the chemistry is really good, I can just imagine it come a couple months from now.”

Morgan Mason finished the scrimmage with 11 points and Briana Harris had nine points, six rebounds and three assists for the White. Marissa Wimbley hit two 3-pointers before being shaken up after hitting the floor hard on a drive to the basket. She didn’t return to the scrimmage but was in good spirits on the bench in the second half.

Freshman forward Dalayna Sampton didn’t score but grabbed 12 rebounds. Junior transfer Raja Moreno-Ross was active on the boards as well with eight rebounds to go along with seven points and three blocks.

Freshman Sarah Toeaina was 1-for-5 from the field but UH coach Laura Beeman was pleased with her assertiveness in her first appearance at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“I know for the returners at times it’s been difficult because they feel like we’ve slowed
the pace down of learning for people to catch up,” Beeman said. “But I think they see tonight there’s less separation than what they thought.”

Connie Morris, a 6-foot-4 junior who began her career at Utah, finished with eight points and three rebounds for the Green. She figures to be a key component in the frontcourt rotation following the departure of Kamilah Jackson, who ended a prolific UH career fourth in the program’s history in scoring and second in rebounds.

“We’re going to have to rebound by committee this year,” Beeman said. “You don’t replace a player like Mia with her ability to occupy bodies, but we can do it with a committee and that’s what we’re going to have to do and that’s what they did tonight.”

The Wahine will be back in the arena on Wednesday for an exhibition game against Hawaii-Hilo. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. as the Wahine continue to work toward the Nov. 14 opener at Colorado State.

“We’ve got a lot of things to put in,” Beeman said, “We’re not nearly where we need to be, but we’re ahead of what I thought.”