Rainbow Wahine Picked to Finish First in Big West
By Rodney S. Yap
Despite being the newest member of the Big West Conference, the University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team enters the league as the 2012 preseason favorite, according to a poll of Big West coaches.
UH received all but one first-place vote and 99 points total, and defending Big West champion Long Beach State was second with 88 points. Cal Poly, picked seventh, received the other first-place vote.
The Rainbow Wahine are entering their second stint as a member of the Big West and hoping to pick up where they left off. UH competed in the Big West from 1985-95 and won the title in its final season with a perfect 18-0 record, 31-1 overall. That season was followed by a fruitful run in the Western Athletic Conference where the ‘Bows won 16 league titles.
Hawai’i opens conference play at Cal State Northridge on Sept. 19 and will face UC Irvine in its home opener on Sept. 27. UH will also renew long-time conference rivalries with Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. LBSU and Hawai’i faced off in the NCAA Northwest Regional five times during UH’s eight-year run in the Big West. The 49ers won every meeting, but the Rainbow Wahine finally broke through in 2000 when they topped Long Beach State in the regional semifinal at the Stan Sheriff Center. The ‘Bows saw a preview of conference competition last season when they played LBSU and Cal State Fullerton, defeating both.
UH opens fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and plays Albany on Aug. 24 in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational for its season opener.
1. Hawai’i (9)
2. Long Beach State
3. Cal State Northridge
T4. UC Santa Barbara
6. Cal State Fullerton
7. Cal Poly (1)
8. UC Davis
9. UC Irvine
10. UC Riverside
( ) Denotes first place votes