Emily Hartong knows the drills
Emily Hartong has a serious streak going.
Hawaii's 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter has played in every game since she was a freshman. That's 109 games and more than 1,200 kills, 550 digs and 240 blocks.
"Harts," as her teammates call her, was the 2012 Big West player of the year, is captain of the team and is gunning for the Rainbow's fourth national championship (and her first). Hawaii (13-1) is ranked sixth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25.
"This is my last go-round here," said Hartong, a communications major from Los Alamitos, Calif. "I don't want to leave with a sense of regret."
Although Hartong leads with a serious work ethic, she also encourages the Rainbows to have some fun.
"Our pregame team cheer is from 'Cool Runnings,' " she said. "We scream out, 'Feel the rhythm; feel the rhyme; come on 'Bows; it's Rainbow time!' " Along with colorful cheers, here are some other keys to her success:
Love this drill
My favorite drill is called tennis. It's an easy game of fundamentals. There are two single-file lines, one on each side of the net, and each player just has to get the ball over the net and then she goes to the end of her line. It gets the team's competitive fire and excitement going.
This one? Not so much
My least-favorite drill is the shuttle drill. There are five players total -- three on one side, two on the other -- and everybody stands on the 10-foot line. One person bumps the ball over, then she runs under the net to the back of the court, touches it, then goes back to the 10-foot line on the same side. We usually have to go for 150 balls, and it's exhausting: It trains you both mentally and physically to stay disciplined in your moves.
Sleds in Hawaii
We don't do a lot of cross-training, but we do a ton of preseason conditioning: shuttle runs, sprints, quick-reaction drills, beach workouts with agility ladders in the sand, dynamic stretching and pushing sleds on the football field. We typically go 20 yards and back with the sleds, and do that six to eight times, depending on what kind of mood the weight trainer is in. It's definitely challenging.
For as long as I play volleyball -- and I'd love to keep playing after graduation -- I can always work on my speed and reaction time. And my vertical jump. Those are three important aspects that help with every part of the game.
Spray up for Victory
My teammate Kalei Adolpho and I have a prematch routine: After we put on our jerseys, we spray each other's hair with hairspray and sometimes even put on spray deodorant. It started as a joke, but we've been doing it for a few years, so now it's kind of a superstition thing.
Spray on after Victory
On Sept. 6, we beat Santa Clara in four sets, giving my coach, Dave Shoji, his 1,107th career match victory, making him the most successful volleyball coach in NCAA Division I history. My teammates and I dumped the Gatorade cooler of water on him, and we doused him in confetti and Silly String. We had nearly 8,000 people join in the celebration after the game. It was incredible! (Hartong, for the record, led the team that night in kills, with 20, and digs, with 14.)