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Quick Sets: No. 1 Hawai’i (4-0) vs. No. 3 UCSB (4-0)

#WarriorBall21 is off to a 4-0 start and are now the number one team in the country, both in the AVCA Coaches and Off the Block Media Polls. For the Rainbow Warriors, the mantra this season is #UnfinishedBusiness. In this week two edition of “Quick Sets,” Tiff Wells will take a look at two storylines each week, either within the UH program or from around the nation. Year four of the Big West Conference season for men’s volleyball is underway and this week its top two teams highlight a big week of conference play.  

By Tiff Wells (March 11, 2021)

League play is finally here! When UH’s original schedule was announced on February 11th, this series wasn’t supposed to take place until the second week in April. But because of the late start in returning to the gym for CSUN, it was mutually agreed upon by all parties involved to move this week’s CSUN series to April 9th and 10th, and then have UC Santa Barbara be this week. A series between unbeaten No. 1 (Hawai`i, 4-0) and unbeaten No. 3 (UC Santa Barbara, 4-0) in the country? The top two teams in this years Big West Conference Preseason Coaches Poll (UH-unanimous No. 1 pick; UCSB-unanimous No. 2 pick)?

On paper, it arguably is the best series of the year in the BWC…and perhaps in the nation. The Rainbow Warriors were supposed to play in Santa Barbara last season, but alas COVID-19 had other ideas and the season was cancelled prior to conference play. UH hasn’t played UCSB in Santa Barbara since the 2018 season (UH won the two-match series, their first ever road sweep of UCSB where Sophomore Rado Parapunov had 20 kills, a pair of aces and 10 blocks, Freshman Gage Worsley was a serving specialist and had three aces and Patrick Gasman had four kills and four blocks.). The Gauchos are hungry to defeat UH and a number one team; they haven’t beaten UH since April of 2016. Since then, UH has won six straight against UCSB. This is such a big series that on Sunday night, Off The Block tweeted this:

The three-match series begins later today. Matches today and tomorrow will count towards the conference record. Saturday’s non-conference match, as well as all non-conference matches against BWC teams will always be interesting. Do you rest the starters and develop the bench? Do you play your normal lineup and try to boost the resume with a high-quality non-conference win? One thing we know for sure: a lot of eyes will be on this match from Rob Gym that will feature numerous All-Americans.