Senior Uila Crabbe is a team co-captain this year and is a candidate fot the All-Mountain West Conference team. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
Often overlooked and surely underappreciated by the casual fan, liberos toil in the background, supporting the defensive presence of a 6-foot-4 middle blocker or the sheer power of a 6-foot-0 outside hitting ace. That is the space current Cougar senior libero Uila Crabbe operates in.
The 2001 All-Mountain West Conference selection was only one of two Cougars to have played in all 124 games on last year's injury-decimated BYU squad. Despite all the turmoil surrounding her, Crabbe managed to put up 376 digs on the year -- the fourth highest single-season total in team history.
Entering this season, and throughout spring play, Crabbe felt a great sense of urgency. It is her final year and although she wants to see the team succeed, she knows the team has the ability to succeed and excel on the national level.
"There's definitely a sense of urgency," Crabbe states emphatically. "I want to go as far as possible. We've already improved so much since the season began.
"We want to definitely win the conference championship, but this is a team, I believe can reach at least the Sweet Sixteen. We just have to keep improving and keep playing as a team."
As a co-captain, along with fellow senior Carrie Bowers, Crabbe is vocal on the court, and is a willing leader. BYU is a young team with starters in key positions who are relatively inexperienced on the collegiate level.
"College volleyball is so much different than high school," Crabbe says. "There's a tendency as a young player to get down, but having been through it myself, I have to keep morale up when things aren't going our way. I have to be an example, but at the same time, we're a team and we all have to be there for each other."
The season is five weeks old and Crabbe currently leads all MWC players averaging 3.51 digs per game. Last season is in the past and nothing can change what happened, but Crabbe is bent on redemption.
"We improved so much in the spring," Crabbe says. "At the beginning of this season, I was nervous and excited. Now I'm excited to see where we end up after last year's experience."
Nickname: Uils (Wheels)
Favorite movie: My Best Friend's Wedding
Favorite music group: Fiji, not really a group and not so much my favorite but he's a wonderful entertainer in person. Plus, he sings my favorite song "Sharing the Night."
Favorite food: Hawaiian / Polynesian
Least favorite food: Any spicy foods, I can't handle it
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington (for now, it changes depending on the movie)
Favorite actress: Julia Roberts
Favorite professional sports teams: Lakers, if I had to choose. I usually just cheer for the underdogs because it makes competition more fun.
Favorite Web site: google.com (I can get anything I need from here)
Favorite sport other than volleyball: Any water/ocean sports (surfing, swimming)
If I could add one team to the schedule it would be: Pepperdine (My younger sister, Kekai, plays as a Libero for them)
The most difficult opposing arena to play in is: It's a toss up between Utah and Colorado State
Opponent you would most like to beat: Utah
Who is the best player you've ever faced: Kim Willoughby from UH, she hit the hardest
A friend from another college volleyball team: my sister at Pepperdine; high school teammates from UH, Rutgers, Loyola Marymount and some other places
The current or former BYU athlete I most enjoy watching perform: Sunny Mahe because she's not only an excellent player but she's also a wonderful person.
I play volleyball because: I love it! I've been playing since my mom coached our local high school team. It's a fun sport to watch and play. Anyone, no matter their size, age or skill level, can play and have fun as well.
Before a volleyball match, I: always make sure my hair is in either two styles--two French braids or a ponytail with six individual braids. I also like to chill in the locker room and talk with my teammates just to loosen up my butterflies.
Who has had the greatest influence on your volleyball career and why: My high school coaches Dan Kitashima and Chris Blake. I played with Coach Dan for about six years and Chris for three. They always believed in my ability as a player and individual. Coach Dan was also LDS so he always made sure that values and family were more important than anything else. Chris made me believe in myself and formed me into the player that I am today. I am grateful for both of them for all that they taught me.
Most impressive person I've ever met and why: There are so many. One that just popped in my head was Marion Jones because I met her on my birthday while she was here at BYU working out. She's an amazing athlete to say the least.
One place you would like to visit and why: I would love to visit Tahiti because it's beautiful and I could easily relax and kickback.
What is your favorite hobby away from volleyball: I like to do a lot of things. When I have time, I try catching up on scrapbooking, sewing, and other stuff. I like to think that I'm more domestic than I really am.
What is your most memorable athletic achievement or moment: My most memorable athletic achievement would have to be my senior year of high school when we won the State championships for volleyball the third year in a row. Although the game wasn't that tough, I had played with most of my teammates since the seventh grade. We grew up together on and off the court. Definitely fun times.
What gets you pumped up before a match: Probably the warm-up CD. If it's "not-so-good" then my mood changes. I need some good hip-hop or rap to get me really going.
My advice to young volleyball players: Would be to keep on working hard even if the odds aren't in your favor. Even if you don't have the best skill yet, if you work hard enough and keep at it, you will learn. Working hard is a lesson that will help you not only in volleyball but in life as well.
Which reality show would you want to be on: Ooh, that's a tough one. Maybe Survivor, but I'm not sure I would last very long. Road Rules would be a fun one. I'd like to be on Fear Factor, I definitely would eat anything unusual.
What is the best book you've ever read: Harry Potter. The scriptures, of course ... I'm at BYU.
If you could only keep one possession, what would it be and why: I'd probably keep all my pictures because I can buy anything, but pictures are the only snapshots I have of the past.
What is your most memorable date: I'm guessing this means like a "real" date with a guy and stuff. Probably the first date I had with my boyfriend, Moa. We were both in two-a-days last summer so our bodies were dead. We just went up to the Provo temple, sat down, and talked for a long while. That's pretty much all the energy we had. It was fun and relaxing.
What is one thing you want to do in your lifetime: I want to serve a mission with my husband. I think that would be the best thing I could do to spend time with my husband and show my love for my Heavenly Father.
What is your biggest fear: Being a failure. I haven't really failed at anything because I either am pretty good at it or I don't put myself in the position to fail.
How did you spend your off-season: Working out (sometimes....ha ha ha), eating, sleeping, trying to study and some other stuff. On the court, I worked hard on my serve receive passing. I needed a lot of help on it (and still do) and want to be better for my team.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Working as an athletic director for my alma matter, Kamehameha. Of course I'll have children, but I want to be giving back to the school that gave me so much. I also want to help young kids like myself reach some of their dreams.
If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be: Michael Jordan, because he's one of the greatest athletes of all time; Gordon B. Hinckley, just so I could feel of his Spirit and how much of a wonderful example he is for everyone; Jesus Christ, I want to ask Him how I'm doing with my life.
Interesting fact most people don't know about me: I don't know. I'm a "home body." I love just chillin' at home with my sisters and brother. I'm not so much into getting ready to go out with my friends. My siblings and I make up our own games and make fun of people. My family's pretty goofy so we can entertain ourselves like no other.