Nov. 10—Kate Lang keeps a close watch on her competition for the Big West's setter of the week award.
Kate Lang keeps a close watch on her competition for the Big West's setter of the week award.
The conference gave setters their own category this season and the University of Hawaii sophomore claimed the honor for the second time on Monday. Her study of the setters around the league heightens her appreciation of the award as she picks up on elements to expand her own skill set.
"I feel like everybody in this conference that's a setter has their own flair to the game. I look up to literally every single setter, " Lang said.
"During film prior to games I watch both me and the setter that I'm about to play because I just fan-girl over all of them."
A two-time freshman of the week honoree and first-team All-Big West selection last year, Lang has most of the conference looking up to her on the league's assist chart in the late stages of the regular season.
Lang averaged 11 assists per set for a UH attack that hit a cumulative.307 in sweeps of Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton last weekend and the Rainbow Wahine (16-6, 13-1 Big West ) remained alone atop the conference standings entering matches at UC San Diego (12-14, 5-9 ) on Friday and UC Irvine (15-9, 8-6 ) on Saturday.
She raised her season assists average to 10.23, just behind LBSU freshman Zayna Meyer's 10.28. In Big West matches, Lang switches spots with Meyer with a league-high 11 assists per set.
While handling the middle contact of the attack remains Lang's primary role, the 5-foot-10 Texan also took pride in a defensive milestone over the weekend and has looked for her opportunities to finish points with greater frequency of late.
Growing up in the Texas club system, back-row defense generally wasn't a high priority for setters. So popping up the 400th dig of her collegiate career against Cal State Fullerton provided a measure of validation for Lang, who has seven double-doubles (assists and digs ) this season and 19 in her career.
"I was always told setters don't play good defense and stuff like that, " Lang said. "I just feel like that was a lot of motivation for me, especially being a setter from Texas. Texas is not known for defense, we're known for offense.
"Also being in a gym that's so positive and motivating, I'm surrounded by people I love. It's so much easier digging for a team like that."
Lang is directing a UH offense that leads the Big West with a team hitting percentage of.257 overall and.287 in conference play and she has more freedom to contribute to the attack compared to her high school days.
She played in a 6-2 system on her club team in which the setters get switched out when they rotate to the front row. She did play in the front during her high school season, but "even then I wasn't very comfortable being offensive."
In the win over Long Beach State, Lang kept UH's pin hitters busy with Caylen Alexander leading the Wahine with 11 kills, followed by Riley Wagoner's and opposite Braelyn Akana's eight. On Saturday, she set up middle blocker Amber Igiede for 15 kills and Tiffany Westerberg added eight.
With the opposing block focused on UH's hitters, Lang picked opportune moments to put away four kills against Long Beach State and two more against Cal State Fullerton.
"I honestly do think it's because my middles are so talented that I'm able to be offensive, " Lang said.
She has 42 kills through 22 matches this season, converting at a.309 rate, and has already sailed past her total of 28 kills as a freshman.
"She definitely can be part of the offense, " UH coach Robyn Ah Mow said. "Instead of just camping on Amber and the two wings, (opponents ) now have to watch for the dump. So it just gives us more options."
Wahine sign two hitters The Rainbow Wahine announced the signing of two outside hitters for next year's incoming class on Wednesday.
Stella Adeyemi, a 5-foot-10 pin hitter from Papillion-La Vista South High School in Nebraska, submitted her national letter of intent with the start of the early signing period. The Rainbow Wahine also received a letter from 5-foot-11 Tali Hakas of Kfar Saba, Israel.
Adeyemi recently helped Papillion win a third Nebraska Class A state championship and was named to the all-tournament team.
Big West women's volleyball At Main Gym ; La Jolla, Calif.
Hawaii (16-6, 13-1 BWC ) vs. UC San Diego (12-14, 5-9 )—When : Friday, 5 p.m.—TV : None—Radio : 1500-AM—Online : ESPN +