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Quick Sets: Big West Conference Awards

Put on your dancing shoes. Seven teams head to Columbus, Ohio for the 2021 Men’s National Collegiate Volleyball Championship with the same goal in mind: to hoist the championship trophy. The Rainbow Warriors are in, making their second straight appearance and seventh all-time. Also, for the second straight Championship, UH is the No. 1 seed, meaning #WarriorBall21 (15-1 overall) won’t play until the semifinal round (Thursday, May 6th). UH has already recorded its first ever unbeaten regular season in program history. For the Rainbow Warriors, the mantra this season has been #UnfinishedBusiness. In this week nine 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 sees their top two teams advancing to the Men’s National Collegiate Volleyball Championship.

By Tiff Wells

April 29, 2021 – It was odd to see last week Monday when the Big West Conference came out with their All-Conference awards. Well, some of them. First-Team, Honorable Mention and All-Freshman Team were released.

First Team:
Honorable Mention:
All-Freshman Team:

No surprise really with 12 of the 14-member group being seniors and repeat honorees from the shortened 2020 season. Congrats to those 12, especially the four from #HawaiiMVB. What was the surprise however was to see this come from the Conference:

What do you mean the major conference awards are coming out after the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Big West Men’s Volleyball Championship presented by The Hawaiian Islands? No other sport within this conference releases their major awards after their conference tournament. So why is Men’s Volleyball different? And if this is not the case, please let me know so this statement can be corrected. And to our knowledge, most (if not all) conferences announce all conference awards before their conference tournament and in some instances where a sport doesn’t have a conference tournament, they release it after the regular season is done and ahead of the National Tournament of that sport.

To me, a conference regular season award should be based upon the stats and results during the entire regular season. You already have a postseason award for the conference that’s based upon the overall performance of a player during the conference tournament…the Most Valuable Player of the championship tournament.

To wait until mid-Tuesday morning Hawaiian Standard time to announce the three major awards after Saturday’s championship was interesting. And judging by who won one of the awards, it must have been influenced by the result of the Championship match. No disrespect to UC Santa Barbara for winning the conference championship, nor to Head Coach Rick McLaughlin who won Coach of the Year honors for a second straight season, but again…if a conference award is based upon stats and results from the regular season, UC Santa Barbara did go 0-3 at home against Hawai`i (winning only one set in those three matches) and went 1-1 against the league’s third-best team (yes, they did win their semifinal match against Long Beach State).

No surprise that the best player in the Big West Conference (and arguably the nation) took the Player of the Year award:

Rado Parapunov has put himself on a very, very short list at UH when it comes to multiple conference Player of the Year awards. Costas Theocharidis is the only Hawai`i player to win such award twice, doing so in 2001 and 2003 when UH was a member of the MPSF. #RocketRado has always told us that individual awards are nice, but volleyball is a team sport and thus, the bigger award is the team championship. Upon hearing of his award on Tuesday, Rado was very quick to point out to the media over the zoom call that “I think the person who should be sitting here is Pat Gasman. If I had to pick the best player in the league, it’s Patrick.”

A second chance for UH was given to them this past Sunday when they were awarded one of two at-large berths during the Selection Show. That first chance to show that appreciation on the court and represent the state is next week Thursday in the first semifinal of the 2021 Men’s National Collegiate Volleyball Championship.

To view the entire bracket, click here.