With its final bye week of the regular season now in the rearview mirror, #WarriorBall21 (7-0 overall, 2-0 Big West) prepares for the second half of conference play. The number one team in the country, both in the AVCA Coaches and Off the Block Media Polls, UH now sits atop the Big West Conference and are just one of two undefeated teams left in men’s collegiate volleyball. For the Rainbow Warriors, the mantra this season is #UnfinishedBusiness. In this week four edition of “Quick Sets,” Tiff Wells takes 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 continues with its top team finally playing a match at home.
By Tiff Wells.
March 22, 2021 – Spring Break just finished last week here at UH Mānoa and for Head Coach Charlie Wade’s group, it meant preparing the body and mind for five straight weekends of competition. Getting back in the practice gym and weight room, the top ranked team in the land is beyond stoked to finally have a home match. This Friday will have marked 385 days since Patrick Gasman’s walk off ace capped off UH’s remarkable come-from-behind victory against BYU on March 6th, 2020. Will it be different to not have the nation’s best fans in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center in attendance to have the place rocking? You bet.
For this entire group, especially the seniors, they feel they owe a debt to this state to continue their journey and have it take them to their final destination…Columbus, Ohio where a trophy awaits. Talking with some of the players and Coach Wade this past Sunday, they were anxious and extremely excited to finally have a home series later on in the week.
With the conference results from this past weekend, Hawai`i (2-0) is now the only undefeated team in Big West play. With CSUN and Long Beach State in action this past Friday, it meant that all six Big West Conference teams have finally played a match. With the health and safety measures in Northridge and Long Beach, both teams didn’t get back into the practice gym until mid-February. For reference, UH had been in their practice gym since December.
The big question mark for Long Beach State was at setter. Former National Player of the Year Josh Tuaniga graduated in 2019 and 2020 starting setter Carlos Rivera elected to leave the program, leaving The Beach with just one true setter on the 2021 roster, Redshirt Freshman Aidan Knipe. Yes, that Knipe…son of the head coach. The Beach split their weekend series with UC Santa Barbara, handing the Gauchos their third conference loss. Not much was expected with CSUN this year (preseason No. 6 in the BWC), but they took advantage of an injury-plagued UC Irvine team and split their series as well, getting the upset win this past Saturday. In fact, all four conference matches went four sets…with the home team winning each of the home matches.