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Quick Sets: Senior Weekend Recap and more

Coaches usually split their season schedule into three parts: pre-conference, conference and postseason. However, this is not your typical season. For the Big West Conference, they were left with matches only with one another, as they counted towards both the conference and non-conference record. With the conference season finishing up this past weekend, it also means the first part of the schedule is done. We’ve hit part two…postseason play. The 2021 Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Big West Men’s Volleyball Championship presented by the Hawaiian Islands begins this Thursday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. For the Rainbow Warriors, it means a chance to defend their tournament title. #WarriorBall21 (15-0 overall, 10-0 Big West) is the top seed and won’t play until Friday night in the semifinal round. The number one team in the country, both in the AVCA Coaches and Off the Block Media Polls, UH recorded its first ever unbeaten regular season in program history and for the first time since 1996, had a perfect conference record. The Bows 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 eight edition of “Quick Sets,” Tiff Wells looks 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 wraps up with all six teams in Honolulu looking to earn the Big West Conference automatic bid into the NCAA Championship next month.  

By Tiff Wells

April 19, 2021 – So many emotions head into senior week. For the players, it really begins to hit them as they see the tributes across social media and as they reflect upon their careers with one another and the media. It can be difficult to compartmentalize everything. Knowing a big event is coming, but also trying to just go out there and play your game, while also knowing there’s some history on the line for your program. Playing a team you’ve beaten twice earlier this season and are expected to soundly beat twice more because they are both unranked and at the bottom of the conference standings, it could lead to a little bit of complacency.

The team started the match out well, winning two close sets (25-22, 25-23). But, two big aspects of UH’s game were off. One: The two-time reigning Big West Conference Player of the Week AND the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week. Opposite Rado Parapunov had just three kills after two sets. Two: The nation’s leading blocking team was very quiet. We’ve heard the phrase “it’s not how you start, but how you finished.” Parapunov owned up to his slow start as he record 22 kills over the final three sets, including nine on twelve errorless swings in the fifth set. Maybe as dominant of a single set by any individual in recent memory. Perfect regular season (14-0) and conference (9-0) records still intact.

As Chaz Galloway returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the previous match with a non-COVID related illness, so to returned the dominant Hawai`i squad. After recording just a season-low five blocks the night before, The Mānoa Roofing Company recorded six and a half total team blocks in the first set. Parapunov hadn’t served an ace since the Long Beach State weekend and in the third set of night two against UCI, he arguably had one of the best serving turns of his career. Yes, five service aces, including two occasions where he had back-to-back aces. Now at 109 for his career, he passed Delano Thomas for fourth-place all-time in Hawai`i history. Fitting that on match point, one of the seniors would end it:

We knew Senior Night would be much different for this group. They didn’t have one in 2020 due to the cancelled season. One of the many reasons they all came back for 2021 was to experience this. Even without the presence of family and fans in the stands, it managed to still feel a little bit like the Senior Night tradition we’re used to seeing.

A perfect regular season (15-0), the first in program history. A perfect conference season (10-0), the first since 1996 and third in program history. The top seed in the conference tournament, the Rainbow Warriors are off until Friday’s featured semifinal match against the winner of the (5) CSUN / (4) UC San Diego Quarterfinal matchup. With UC Santa Barbara (2) receiving the other bye, they face the winner of the (6) UC Irvine / (3) Long Beach State quarterfinal.

Here’s the Big West conference tournament bracket:

In the Conference Carolinas, their championship match was held on Sunday, April 18th. (2) Belmont Abbey (15-7, 9-5) won their first ever Conference Carolina’s Men’s Volleyball Championship with a 4-set victory over top-seed Mount Olive: 25-22, 27-25, 23-25, 25-22. It’s the first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance for the Crusaders.

Here’s the MIVA Conference Tournament bracket:

Saturday’s championship hosted by Lewis begins at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.

Here’s the EIVA Conference Tournament bracket:

The MPSF Tournament begins this week. Here’s their tournament schedule with start times listed in Hawaii time:
Thursday, April 22

  • 10 a.m. Match 1 – No. 7 Concordia vs. No. 2 UCLA
  • 1 p.m. Match 2 – No. 5 USC vs. No. 3 Grand Canyon
  • 4 p.m. Match 3 – No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 5 Pepperdine

Friday, April 23

  • Noon Semi-Final Match No. 1 – Highest seeded quarterfinal winners
  • 3 p.m. Semi-Final Match No. 2 – Lowest remaining seed vs. No. 1 BYU

Saturday, April 24

  • 3 p.m. MPSF Championship Match