Rainbow Wahine volleyball has big weekend ahead

Nov. 3—One by one, each of the six Hawaii women's volleyball seniors took turns on Tuesday taping their final interviews for Spectrum in advance of the final homestand in two weeks.

One by one, each of the six Hawaii women's volleyball seniors took turns on Tuesday taping their final interviews for Spectrum in advance of the final homestand in two weeks.

There were a few tears shed in the green room at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, but not as many as there might normally be.

There's simply too much work to be done before then as the Rainbow Wahine prepare for the biggest back-to-back home matches of the season starting tonight.

Hawaii (17-6, 10-2 Big West ), which sits second in a tie with Long Beach State in conference play, welcomes fourth-place Cal Poly (15-10, 9-4 ) tonight before the much-anticipated rematch against first-place UC Santa Barbara (22-3, 12-1 ) on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine were two games behind the Gauchos before UC Irvine handed Hawaii a gift last weekend by defeating then-25th-ranked UCSB in four sets.

That put control of Hawaii's future squarely in the hands of the Rainbow Wahine, and specifically a senior class that is trying to go out with the program's fourth consecutive Big West Conference championship.

"It's all on us and it's a lot of pressure, but it's exciting and that's why we're here, " senior hitter Kendra Ham said.

Hawaii will be decked out in brand new retro uniforms designed with input from Hawaii head coach Robyn Ah Mow.

The team wore the uniforms together on the practice court for the first time on Tuesday as they honor Wahine teams of the past with a nod to Ah Mow's senior season in 1996.

Looking good won't be a problem, but as has been the case all year, the only focus is on playing well, with the added benefit of knowing there is no need to do any more scoreboard watching.

"I think that's definitely an extra level of motivation going into practice this week knowing we get to control our own destiny, " senior libero Talia Edmonds said. "Sometimes you find yourself in a position where it's not all up to you, and that's the worst. This is really empowering, and I hope everybody on the team will appreciate it and take that and run with it."

Hawaii is on a season-long, five-match winning streak since losing to UCSB in five. The streak began with a bounce-back four-set win over the Mustangs a night later.

The loss to UCSB wasn't all doom and gloom for a Hawaii team that finished the match with more kills, assists and digs and a better hitting percentage.

UH changed starting lineups for the next match and hasn't lost yet with hitters Paula Guersching, Riley Wagoner and Caylen Alexander in the same starting seven.

Senior middle Kennedi Evans, one of three Rainbow Wahine to start every match this season, thinks it might have been a real turning point in the season.

"Every loss feels a little bit different and I think, just for me, it made me more hungry and excited for the next one, " Evans said. "I think it definitely lit a fire under us like, 'OK, it's time to go.' I think we've definitely figured out some things since then."

UH has hit over.325 in each of its past four matches and has won 14 sets in a row entering November.

That's a high number considering Hawaii is 12-0 when hitting.250 or better this season.

Junior Kate Lang, who was named the Big West Setter of the Week for the sixth time on Monday, has benefited from the latest starting lineup.

She leads the conference averaging 10.39 assists per set and with 852 total assists. Senior middle Amber Igiede leads the Big West and is one of 23 players in NCAA Division I hitting over.400 with a.401 hitting percentage.

Igiede also leads the Big West in kills per set (3.79 ) and points per set (4.69 ). She's 14th on the UH career kills list with 1, 247 and needs six blocks to become just the fourth player in UH history with 1, 000 kills and 500 blocks, joining Angelica Ljungqvist, Suzanne Eagye and Deitre Collins.