Pac West Titles Are Up For Grabs
Wednesday - September 16, 2009
This is my third year as the commissioner of the Pacific West Conference, and I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time.
As the fall PacWest season begins this week, we now have nine schools in the conference - up from just five a few years ago.
The defending champions in our five fall sports are Commissioner’s Cup winner BYU-Hawaii in women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and women’s cross country, and Notre Dame de Namur in men’s soccer and HPU in men’s cross country.
The race for the 2009 PacWest women’s volleyball championship kicks off this Thursday and Saturday in Hawaii with two huge matches. On the Big Island, the new look Chaminade Silverswords travel to take on the preseason conference favorite, UH-Hilo. Then on Sept. 19, UH Hilo hosts BYU-Hawaii in a match that is sure to pack their on-campus gymnasium.
Three of the Hawaii volleyball coaching faces will look the same this year. Back again is veteran BYU-Hawaii head coach Wilfred Navalta, the dean of PacWest coaches. Navalta has several conference and national championship trophies stored up in Lai’e, including eight NAIA national titles and two NCAA Division II national championships. This is his 25th year on the sidelines for the Seasiders. Games can be seen on BYU-TV.
In Hilo, Dr. Bruce Atkinson begins his third season at the helm for the Vulcans. Coach Atkinson, who is a doctor of chiropractics, has quickly turned UHHilo into a powerhouse. In 2007, his first team on the Big Island went undefeated during the conference season and won the PacWest title. Last year, the Vulcans finished as conference runner-up. This year, during the preseason, they made big noise by going undefeated during their opening tournaments.
Here in Honolulu, Daryl Kapis begins his fourth season at HPU after guiding the SeaWarriors to a third-place tie in the conference last year. His team made great strides last season and ended the year on a high note by knocking off conference champion BYU-Hawaii. Kapis is hoping for the same kind of magic when his team opens its conference home season against the powerful Seasiders Sept. 26, at the Priory Gym. Games can be seen on KWHE-TV.
There’s a new face on the sidelines at Chaminade, but you’re sure to recognize her. Nahaku Brown, the former Wahine All-American and former HPU head coach, has taken over the Silversword program this season. Her on-court enthusiasm is sure to be a crowd pleaser as the ‘Swords open their home season Sept. 23 at McCabe Gym.
The PacWest men’s and women’s soccer season also begins this upcoming weekend in Hawaii. HPU travels to the Big Island to battle UH-Hilo Sept. 19, while BYU-Hawaii hosts Chaminade in Lai’e.
HPU will be led this year by veteran coaches Scott Liedtke on the men’s side and Michele Nagamine on the women’s side. Both are expected to contend for the conference title this year, especially the SeaWarrior men, who finished only a half-game out of first place last season.
Both UH Hilo teams will be coached by veteran Cam Camarena, who coached only the men’s team last year. BYU-Hawaii has two new coaches: Carolyn Theurer coaching the defending champion women’s team and Mike Akinaka the men’s team. And at Chaminade, Ula Rowe is the new women’s coach, joining veteran men’s coach Jason Kelley.
The fall cross country season also is in full swing. Norman Kaluhiokalani, the PacWest cross country coach of the year, is the coach of BYU-Hawaii and is back again to defend the women’s title. HPU is the defending men’s champ, coached by Christian Friis. Masako Sagawa is the Chaminade head coach, while Jaime Guerpo coaches the UH-Hilo Vulcans.
All these coaches and student-athletes will hit the field and the court and course running this week as the PacWest looks forward to another great season of competition. Please join us at the games, or follow along by visiting www.pacificwestsports.org.
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