2 former UH standouts are picked for the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame

Jan. 19—Robyn Ah Mow and Heather Bown never played together at the University of Hawaii, but they will forever be linked as two of the all-time great Rainbow Wahine volleyball players.

Teammates on three U.S. Olympic teams, Ah Mow and Bown will be inducted together into the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame as the two USA Volleyball All-Time Great Female Indoor Athlete award winners in the class of 2024.

Along with male award winners Jeff Nygaard and Reid Priddy, Ah Mow and Bown will be inducted at the annual banquet ceremony on May 22 in Columbus, Ohio.

"For me this is a different award. It's not like an All-American or like a setter or whatever award. This is a lot bigger because of what it represents," Ah Mow said Wednesday. "First, it's going to represent my family ... who was always pushing me when I started as a little kid, and it goes from family to coaches who, again, same thing like family, who nurtured me, going in the right direction, working hard ... and then going to USA volleyball and representing not just my family but the state as well."

Ah Mow, who has guided the Rainbow Wahine to four straight Big West Conference championships as head coach, was a two-time All-American during her playing career (1993-96).

She played 10 years with the USA Women's National Team beginning in 1999 and earned a silver medal with Bown at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Bown, who joined the USA Women's National Team the same year as Ah Mow after earning AVCA All-America honors in both of her seasons with the Rainbow Wahine (1998-99), played for the national team for 12 years.

"It's been surreal. The impact of it and the significance of it I don't think has hit me yet," Bown said Wednesday. "Just thinking back to when I started volleyball as a junior in high school, it wasn't like a lifelong sport. (Hawaii coach) Dave (Shoji) was really the one who pushed me with USA volleyball and I was terrified.

"He believes in his players so much and he sees what's special in them and he knew I had something that could go the distance, and to be able to have this with Robyn ... I'm really excited I get to do it with her. She was always a pillar for me on the court and a leader for me throughout my entire time with USA volleyball."

Bown and Ah Mow will join fellow Wahine great Beth McLachlin, who was inducted in 2019, when she received the Flo Hyman All-Time Great Female Player Award, in the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame. Clay Stanley was named USA Volleyball All-Time Great Male Indoor Athlete and inducted into the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame last year, joining his father, Jon, who was inducted in 1985.

The criteria to receive a USA Volleyball All-Time Great Player Award is for an athlete to complete a minimum of five years as a member of a U.S. national team and also a minimum of five years on top-level international teams, which includes the Olympic Games, FIVB World Championships and NORCECA.

Shoji, who coached Bown and Ah Mow in college, was inducted as a coach in 2002.

"It's unbelievable, because to get this award you have to be really, really special," Shoji said Wednesday. "Looking back I didn't realize it at the time I was coaching two of the all-time great volleyball players in American history. It really means a lot for them to get this award."