Top Athletes To Watch This Year

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - September 09, 2009
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Aneli Cubi-Otineru: hard-hitter

The great thing about the beginning of each sports season is picking out players to watch. This fall is especially exciting - with names to watch out for at University of Hawaii, PacWest and in high school ranks. Here are just a few names to put on top of your watch list:

* Kanani Danielson, UH-Manoa women’s volleyball outside hitter: She’s so strong, agile and athletic, she’s a threat to score even from the back row. She has the potential to be one of the all-time greats in Wahine volleyball history.

* Aneli Cubi-Otineru, UH women’s volleyball outside hitter: Despite her lack of height, she wins virtually every matchup because of her ability to hit the ball very hard. The former Punahou star will help coach Dave Shoji earn his 1,000th coaching victory soon.

* Amber Kaufman, UHManoa women’s volleyball middle blocker: An all-American in track and field, her leaping ability gives the Wahine a strong presence in the middle, and that’s key for the team to contend for national prominence.


* Dani Mafua, UH-Manoa women’s volleyball setter: On a deep and talented team (perhaps the deepest Wahine team in several years), her passing and setting could help lead the Wahine to the Final Four and maybe more.

* Javonte Taylor, UH football wide receiver: The fastest player on the Warrior football team gives Hawaii a true take-it-tothe-house threat. Coach Greg McMackin says the team will throw the ball more this year than last - just watch Javonte go!

* Mana Lolotai, UH football middle line-backer: Stepping in for the injured Brashton Satele, his instincts will help lead the intimidating Warrior defense.

* Kelly Balanay, Hawaii Pacific women’s volleyball middle blocker: One of the top players in the PacWest could help the Sea Warriors contend for the title.

* Ane Vea, BYU-Hawaii women’s volleyball outside hitter: The Kahuku High grad is a key weapon in the Seasiders’ defense of their PacWest title.

* Josimara Pinheiro, UHHilo women’s volleyball outside hitter: The Brazilian star was the preseason choice for PacWest player of the year.

* Fabiane Seben, UH-Hilo women’s volleyball middle hitter: Physically intimidating middle is one reason why Vulcans are the preseason pick to win the conference.

* Kylee Pedro, Chaminade women’s volleyball outside hitter: The freshman sensation from Mid-Pacific could be a huge weapon for the Silverswords for the next four years.

* Graham Rowley, Waialua football lineman: May seem hard to believe that a lineman from tiny Waialua is the highest-rated high school football recruit in the state. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, he’s already committed to play for BYU.

* Micah Hatchie, Waialua football lineman: Another highly recruited Bulldog is 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, and has Hawaii, Pac-10 schools, Colorado and SMU on his list.

* VJ Fehoko, Farrington football middle linebacker: Vili the Warrior’s son is the highest-rated Hawaii player still uncommitted, ranked No. 11 middle linebacker in the nation by

* Jeremy Higgins, Saint Louis football quarterback: Threw for five touchdown passes in first start of his career. Topped that this season with six TD passes in 2009 opener.

* Andrew Manley, Leilehua football quarterback: Big and strong senior with a rifle-arm led the Mules to the state title as a sophomore and state runner-up last year.

* Kona Schwenke, Kahuku football defensive lineman: Strong and fast at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he’s already committed to play for BYU.

* Taz Stevenson, Mililani football wide receiver/running back/defensive back: Can do it all at several positions, and may be the most explosively exciting player of the season.

All of these players are worthy of note as the fall season moves into overdrive this month and next. Get your scorecards ready and mark down your favorite players. Who’s on your watch list?

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