If the University of New Haven women's volleyball team wins the NCAA Division II national title this week, this play will go down as one of the key moments in the run.
Kaulana Ane, a 2011 Kamehameha Schools Maui graduate, the setter for New Haven, spotted a chance to dump a second hit deep in the corner, facing a match point against Bridgeport on Saturday night in the round of 16.
The play worked - it was the first of four match points saved by the Chargers in an eventual 18-16, fifth-set win. Ane had five kills, 49 assists, and 12 digs in the match. One night earlier, the Chargers beat New York Institute of Technology 15-13 in the fifth when Ane had eight kills, 53 assists and nine digs.
Kaulana Ane has been a clutch performer for New Haven in its run to the NCAA?Division II?Elite Eight. The Kamehameha Schools Maui alumnus has helped the Chargers to a 30-1 record this season.
John Kritzman photo
"I guess the adrenaline kicked in and the game felt faster than maybe it was," Ane said via phone Monday before class. "To me, I was put in a position where I didn't really have time to be really nervous. I had to have a disposition of being more calm and collected. At points, I was very high emotional because it was a very high emotional game, but I wasn't so much nervous, I was just really wanting to win so bad and I know my team wanted it."
New Haven (30-1), the East Region champion, faces Indianapolis (30-7), the Midwest Region winner, on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla., for a Final Four berth. It is the 12th Elite Eight appearance and 20th 30-win season in New Haven's 37-year
history in the sport.
Ane's play of the night came with several options, she said.
"I basically looked over my head right before I did it and if I was going to dump it to zone five, that little girl wouldn't get it," she said. "So, I just prayed and hoped for the best when I did it, to be honest."
When coach Robin Salters, a former all-star setter for the school, was asked about the play, she perked up.
"She tipped the ball deep to the zone five there, which is a play that we work on quite a bit," Salters said. "It shows that she is learning the game and seeing the court better and learning how to create those opportunities. It ended up working out well for us. She fought that point - we fought off four or five match points that night. The team showed a ton of resilience and courage."
Salters earned All-Region honors and was named the school's Female Athlete of the Year for the 1990-91 academic year. She concluded her career by winning the University's NCAA Woman of the Year Award in 1991.
She chuckled when asked if there are similarities between herself and Ane, the Northeast-10 Conference Setter of the Year and a second-team All-Star.
"I'm an old setter, I'm very hard on my setters," Salters said. "I train them the way that I was trained. As far as similarities, I can't really say that there are. . . . I think she is going to be a very, very good player. She is good now, but I think she is going to be very, very good. That was the promise I made her when I recruited her. I said, 'If you come here, I can make you a very good setter.' "
Ane has three brothers. Her mother, Darlene, played volleyball at Utah. Her father, Neal, played football at BYU. Her grandfather, Charley Ane, was a two-time NFL champion and two-time Pro Bowler for the Detroit Lions and head coach at St. Anthony in the 1990s.
Kaulana Ane was third in perhaps the most impressive single volleyball class ever to graduate from the Maui Interscholastic League - KSM teammate Ginger Long and Molokai's Kalei Adolpho both play for Hawaii.
Salters said adjusting to the East Coast was a challenge last year when Ane was a freshman. Ane turned down NCAA Division I scholarship offers in part because of the opportunity to major in criminal justice and forensic psychology at the Connecticut school. She wants to be a criminal profiler.
"The pace of life is definitely a lot different," said Ane, who added she didn't have enough warm clothes as a freshman. "I find my pace a lot faster, I guess. It is like a joke. Before I used to walk pretty mellow and kind of not really a worry in the world, very laidback. Now, I'm more, I need to get somewhere, I need to get my stuff done, I need to do something, I should be doing something with my time.
"The opportunities are a whole lot more open for me up here to not only play volleyball, but I get to get an education out of it and that was a big thing."
* Robert Collias is at rcollias @mauinews.com