Quick Sets: Rainbow Warriors start the season 4-0

Quick Sets: Rainbow Warriors start the season 4-0

By Tiff Wells.

#WarriorBall21 is off and running, having concluded the first week of the much anticipated season with four wins. For the Rainbow Warriors, the mantra is #UnfinishedBusiness. In this debut edition of “Quick Sets,” we take a look at two storylines, either within the UH program or from around the nation. Year Four of the Big West Conference season for men’s volleyball is right around the corner, and it looks to be just as good as it’s ever been.

Week 1: 

Four matches in five days during an eight-day road trip sounds daunting, right? Well, when it had been 357 days since the last match played, “guys are chomping at the bit” to get out there and play. As Rado Parapunov said, “Let us know when and where, we’ll be there.” It didn’t matter if these four matches against conference opponents would be counted only in the overall records. It didn’t matter if only 13 players would make the travel roster. What mattered was how much this program means to this volleyball-crazed state and what these “super seniors” (Rado Parapunov, Patrick Gasman and Colton Cowell) feel they owe this state after being given one more chance. Outside of losing the season opening first set by three points, it was all business for the second-ranked Rainbow Warriors. Multiple first-team All-Americans on the floor and with arguably two or three players that are the best in their position nationally, UH looked mightyimpressive while winning the next 12 sets. Maybe some fine-tuning here and there on being even more efficient offensively, Charlie’s Company opened the season with four very nice non-conference wins against conference opponents that will only boost their résumé, especially for this season where they won’t play anyone else outside of the Big West Conference. As Coach Wade has said over the years, “it’s not depth if you don’t use it.” That phrase rang true throughout this road trip as at some point, each of the 13 players who did travel saw court time. Both second-year freshman Chaz Galloway and true freshman Spyros Chakas filled in nicely as the second outside hitter for third-year sophomore Filip Humler, who wasn’t available. A 13-day wait until the next match, the beginning of a three-match series at UC Santa Barbara. What could be a 1 versus 2 matchup.

He had been here before, as an assistant, then the associate head coach for the Rainbow Wahine from 1995 through the 2005 season. Even though Charlie Wade would spend the next three seasons as the women’s head coach at Pacific, he always wanted to be a volleyball head coach for Hawaii, gender not important. When 17-year head coachMike Wilton retired on April 11, 2009, Wade saw an opportunity and applied. A little more than a month later (May 22), he was hired as the fifth head coach in UH men’s volleyball history. He inherited a team that had just went 9-18 overall, finished 10th in conference (6-16), with no conference tournament appearance for a second straight year. That 9-18 record was the program’s third straight losing season. In Wade’s first year at UH in 2010, the team went 19-10 overall, 14-8 in conference (fourth in the MPSF), made the semifinal round of the conference tournament and ended the season ranked fourth in the nation. Since then: just one losing season, three national tournament appearances (2015, 2017 and 2019), multiple AVCA first-team All-Americans, numerous weeks atop the national rankings, been the national leader three years running in average attendance per match and has reignited this passionate fan base. The program has been relevant nationally since that 2015 season and has been on the doorstep of bringing home that national championship trophy the last couple of seasons. He’s 116 wins from tying Mike Wilton (316-167) as the winningest head coach in UH men’s volleyball history. Wins are nice, as Wade has said, but it’s more about getting the program back to the glory days. “That’s the gratifying part for us. We’ve got the program to the point where we’re competing at the highest level,” said Wade after Thursday’s win at No. 11 UC San Diego. That highest level will more than likely result in UH receiving the number one ranking in this today’s coaches poll.