Emily Hartong has become a household name among University of Hawai‘i volleyball fans during her three years as a Rainbow Wahine. It is now Hartong’s final year as one of seven seniors on the 2013-14 roster for the Wahine. Although each senior contributes to the team in every way, Hartong stands out among the rest.
“I would put her up there in the overall top 10 percent of players we have had,” head coach Dave Shoji said. “She’s going to be when she finishes among the top players that have ever played in the program. She is the all-around good player and hard worker.”
Hartong is from Long Beach, Calif., and a Los Alamitos High School graduate. She had many accomplishments while in high school, including lettering all four years and being named Los Alamitos’ Female Athlete of the Year. She earned all-county, all-region and all-California Interscholastic Federation honors during her senior year.
“Looking back on it, it has been pretty exhilarating I would say,” Hartong said. “It’s crazy that I am already a senior, and each year my goal is to get better than the previous year. I only hope that all my hard work this summer pays off during season. Last shot, really going to go after it.”
As a freshman, Hartong was a phenomenal contribution to the Rainbow Wahine roster. Hartong started all 32 matches as a middle hitter. She was named the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the all-WAC second team. From her first year, Hartong showed of things to come.
“I’ve been playing against her since I was 12, so we have both been around the game, and I think she is so versatile in this sport that she can go anywhere,” senior setter Mita Uiato said.
Being versatile is something that Hartong excels in. During her sophomore year she played in all 33 matches and moved around in all three front-row positions. This year she was named second team American Volleyball Coaches Association all-American, selected AVCA all-region and all-WAC first team. Along with her accomplishments, Hartong ranked 25th nationally with a hitting percentage of .369.
Last season she added another feat to her list: Hartong played on the left side for the first time in her UH career. To no one’s surprise she shined during the 2012 season and received AVCA First Team All-American and AVCA all-region. On top of that she was voted Big West Conference Player of the Year even though it was UH’s first appearance in the conference.
“That is why she has the honors that she gets, All-American,” Uiato said. “It’s hard for a middle especially to go to outside. It’s a lot different timing. It’s a lot more responsibility. She plays back row, middle back and hits from the back row too. So it’s a lot of responsibility to take on, and that is why she is the player she is. She is amazing, and I do feel comfortable having her as my go to hitter as a setter. It’s a big role she plays.”
Even though she made transitioning from middle to left side look easy, there were times that were frustrating. No matter what, she always had the team behind her.
“I can definitely see how that is hard and frustrating for her but that’s okay because we got her back. She is a great athlete, so she makes up for whatever small thing she is lacking in athleticism,” sophomore middle Jade Vorster said.
As a leader, much of the team can agree that Hartong leads by example and keeps the team accountable.
“She hustles through plays and keeps up with plays. In between plays she talks a lot,” Uiato said. “She was captain last year, so she knows the role to play and how our team functions. ... She definitely works hard throughout the whole entire practice. Usually if we are slacking she will let us know.”
Through her career, Hartong has showed athleticism and talent. There are high hopes for Hartong to finish off her career with top honors.
“Good student and good character: Players like Emily don’t come around too often,” Shoji said.
Associate Sports Editor Jeremy Nitta contributed to this story.