By Tiff Wells.
Dec. 12 – A date so good we just had to go with two different years!
In 1974, it’s the first year of Rainbow Wahine volleyball, and then-head coach, the late Alan Kang, took the team to Portland. This was the site of the AIAW Nationals (before the NCAA sponsored women’s volleyball). It was the first trip to mainland for the program and for some of the Rainbow Wahine, it was the first time to ever take a plane ride. Sure, the team had played UH-Hilo and BYU-Hawai‘i earlier in the year, but this was the first time facing competition on the mainland. Throw in three matches on day 1 of Nationals? Seems like a lot to ask for, right? Not for this group. UH won all three matches, all three by 2-0 set scores as the Bows defeated SW Missouri State, UC Riverside and Maryland.
In 2009, ranked third but seeded 12th, UH was in the Stanford Regional Final after defeating fifth-seeded Illinois the day before. Many felt the fourth-seeded Cardinal had a great chance to advance to the Final Four without leaving campus, but they were upset by 16th ranked, 13th-seeded Michigan in the other regional semifinal. With UH facing their second straight Big Ten opponent in as many days, the Rainbow Wahine led the majority of the second half of the opening set. UH hit just .118 in the opening set and yet, the score was 23 all. A Stephanie Ferrell kill, followed by an Aneli Cubi-Otineru ace handed the Rainbow Wahine the 25-23 set 1 victory. Ferrell ended set 2, 25-19, with a kill, and the Bows led the Wolverines 2-0. Leading set 3 from start to finish, a Michigan hitting error gave UH the 25-18 victory and it sent UH to Tampa, Florida for its first Final Four since 2003. Named the Regional Most Outstanding Player was Kanani Danielson. On the All-Tournament Team from UH was Cubi-Otineru, Ferrell and setter Dani Mafua. This marked UH’s ninth Final Four appearance in school history.
Here are highlights from this Regional Final:
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