Welcome to the postseason, Big West Conference! The 2021 Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Big West Men’s Volleyball Championship presented by the Hawaiian Islands begins later today 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 tomorrow 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 22, 2021 – Apologies to the Conference Carolinas and the MIVA, but…welcome to Champ week. Motto for everyone?…survive and advance. As head coach Charlie Wade says, “play at your best, when your best is needed.” Certainly the best is needed in this conference and even more so in the conference tournament. With four ranked teams in the latest top 15 coaches poll, a fifth receiving votes and the sixth nearly upsetting the number one team, all coaches feel anyone can get hot, get on a roll and be the one to #LeaveALegacy and #RaiseTheCup as champions of the 2021 Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Big West Men’s Volleyball Championship presented by the Hawaiian Islands. Hawai`i is the only team in conference history (granted the BWC began sponsoring men’s volleyball with the 2018 season) to land a top-two seed for each conference championship.
Listening in on the media zoom call with all six head coaches earlier in the week, they are all thankful to just be here at this point. So far (and knock on wood here), the Big West Conference is the only Division I-II men’s conference that hasn’t had a match cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols. Within the BWC, UH and UC Irvine (again, knock on wood here) are the only two teams that haven’t had any sort of pause due to the protocols. No coach is taking any team lightly based on their tournament seed and/or overall record. Head Coaches of the top two seeded teams (No. 1 Hawai`i – Charlie Wade; No. 2 UC Santa Barbara – Rick McLaughlin) have a luxury to live scout their opponent for an extra match.
The Big West Conference announced most of their awards on Monday and for Hawai`i, there was a big haul. Seven members received accolades: 1st-team (Rado Parapunov, Patrick Gasman, Gage Worsley and Cowell), Honorable Mention (Chaz Galloway and Jakob Thelle) and All-Freshman (Spyros Chakas). No real surprise as the top two teams (UH and UCSB) each had four players on the 14-member first team. In fact, 12 of the 14 on the first team were on the first team last season. 12 of the 14 are in their senior seasons. The major awards (Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year) will be announced on Tuesday, April 27.
The Big West Championship has seen two winners (2019: Hawai`i. 2018: Long Beach State) in its short history. Going back to the 2017 MPSF Tournament Championship, it’s been a Hawai`i/Long Beach State final. Do we see this final matchup for a fourth straight tournament championship? Will we see a new team or two make the conference championship match? Does UH defend their Big West championship? This week should be a lot of fun with a lot of high-level volleyball.
In the Conference Carolinas, their championship match was held this past Sunday. (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.
MIVA Tournament bracket:
Saturday’s championship hosted by Lewis begins at 2 p.m. Hawaiian time.
EIVA Conference Championship Tournament bracket:
Saturday’s championship hosted by Penn State begins at 1 p.m. Hawaiian time.
The MPSF Tournament begins this week. All start times listed in Hawaiian time.
MPSF Championship Tournament:
- 10 a.m.: Match 1 – No. 7 Concordia vs. No. 2 UCLA
- 1 p.m.: Match 2 – No. 5 USC vs. No. 4 Grand Canyon
- 4 p.m.: Match 3 – No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 3 Pepperdine
- 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
- 3 p.m.: MPSF Championship Match