Wahine looking to find themselves
It has taken three matches but Hawaii feels it has begun to find itself, its identity, its “teamness” this volleyball season. In many respects, the Rainbow Wahine didn’t recognize the group that was playing the first two days of last week’s Texaco Invitational, wondering “who da guys” on the Stan Sheriff Center Teraflex when losing in five to Marquette then losing — badly — to No. 22 San Diego in three.
Those imposters were replaced on Sunday, in time for the 75th meeting with UCLA, helped by a 90-minute tough-love session in Gym I immediately after the loss to the Toreros. While Hawaii didn’t complete the comeback against the Bruins — giving up the final six points in a five-set defeat — “I think it showed our potential, our capability to become a really great team,” senior hitter Kalei Greeley said as Hawaii prepared for the 30th Hawaiian Airlines Classic.
“I’m excited to be back in the gym and very encouraged by what we saw,” said Greeley, who played for the first time this season against UCLA. “That was more like our team. We didn’t look like ourselves, didn’t feel like ourselves the other nights.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Wahine, 0-3 for the first time since 1980 and unranked for the first time since 2014. The focus was on the positives that Hawaii took away from Sunday, “as close to a win as you can get without it being a win,” assistant coach Angelica Ljungqvist said. “The team responded so well to what we talked about Saturday night. They came out like a team for the first time. They played with heart and joy.
“We’re proud of the way they turned it around. That first weekend is not going to define us.”
“Everyone is coming into the week with positive feeling,” added senior Emily Maglio, the lone Wahine on last week’s all-tournament team.
Hawaii did look more like itself in terms of positions against the Bruins. Maglio and junior Casey Castillo were playing musical spots when both were used at middle and on the outside. They settled in on Sunday in what are considered their natural positions, Maglio in the middle and Castillo on the outside.