Wahine volleyball team hits the road to close out the regular season
It’s the final regular-season road trip for Hawaii this week. The question is: Will it be the final trip period? The Rainbow Wahine (187, 12-2 Big West) are on the NCAA tournament bubble and could miss out on the postseason for just the second time in program history. As the conference runner-up, Hawaii has an automatic bid to the revived National Invitational Volleyball Championship, but the UH administration on Tuesday said the invitation to participate in the alternative 64-team event would be turned down.
“We will respectfully decline if invited,” Lois Manin, associate athletic director/ senior woman administrator said.
Among the factors cited was travel cost. It was unlikely that Hawaii could host a first round (Nov. 28 or 29) and sponsor Triple Crown Sports would pay a maximum of $15,000 for travel, which is less than UH spends for a volleyball road trip. Rainbow Wahine coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos discussed it with the administration and was in agreement. “It’s like you’re playing for 65th place,” she said, referring to not being in the NCAA tournament field of 64. “I think we win two this week and there’s a sliver of a chance (for an NCAA atlarge).
“I know our players have seen Cal Poly celebrating being Big West champion. Hopefully they don’t get deterred by it, keep playing hard and see what happens.” Just as the Wahine have byes to bookend their final road trip — they were off last week and will be off next week — Hawaii is bookending the conference schedule with the two teams it opened with eight weeks ago at the Stan Sheriff Center.
On Thursday, the Wahine are at UC Davis (16-12, 8-7), a team they swept on Sept. 23. They play at UC Irvine (21-6, 9-5) on Saturday. The Anteaters took Set 1 in a 3-1 UH victory on Sept. 22.
“We’re taking it one game at a time, control what we can control,” Wahine senior middle Emily Maglio said. “We want to play our best, beat these teams and see what the NCAA gives us.” “I’m hoping it’s not the last time on the road for us,” added senior defensive specialist Gianna Guinasso. “The attitude this week has been that this is not the end. We’re hoping for similar results as the Long Beach (State) weekend, go 3-andout (sweep).
“We didn’t get that (Big West) title, but we’re staying positive, keeping our heads in that direction and look to make a statement in the playoffs.”
Hawaii’s most complete effort of the season came in its last performance, a 25-14, 25-11, 25-10 rout of the 49ers in 88 minutes on senior night. Maglio had 19 kills, hitting .630, while sophomore middle Natasha Burns added a career-high 11 kills without an error in 16 attempts.
“Practice makes perfect,” Burns said. “I’ve been working really hard with Angelica (assistant Ljungqvist, a former
Senior libero Savanah Kahakai is five digs shy of passing Tita Ahuna (1,384) for No. 3 on UH’s all-time list.