Hawaii men’s volleyball: Unforgettable ride

Hawaii fans Ray (R) and Dayle Oishi from Kaimuki cheered on the Rainbow Warrior volleyball team in the NCAA championship Saturday. / Photo by Darryl Miho, Special to the Star-Advertiser

Whether you were a diehard Hawaii volleyball fan or a late-comer to the sensation that was #WarriorBall19, you likely shared in some indelible moments over the past few months.

The record 74-set streak, and the moment it came to an end to a standing ovation at home. The five-setters at Long Beach State to cap the regular season. The epic rematch with The Beach for the Big West title played in front of an epic sellout crowd. The curious timing and lingering questions about the misconduct allegation against coach Charlie Wade. And finally, the disappointing finish of the four-set loss to LBSU in the NCAA championship game.

It was UH’s first national championship game appearance since men’s volleyball won it all in 2002, and subsequently had it stripped by the NCAA for use of an ineligible player.

A happier ending seemed in play this time for the guys who captured the collective imagination of the state in a way that few teams accomplish. The expressive Worsley brothers, “The Flying Dutchman” Stijn van Tilburg, “Rocket” Rado Parapunov, local boy Colton Cowell, “Uncle Pat” Patrick Gasman and the rest of the gang endeared themselves to people with their accessibility and humility.

We were there at the Walter Pyramid with Cindy Luis’ game story and a sidebar by Joseph D’Hippolito about the fervent crowd (free links).


It could be the enduring misfortune of Hawaii (28-3) that it fielded one of its all-time great teams in the same window of a generationally good Long Beach (28-2) team that had the advantage of playing at home, where the TJ DeFalco-led 49ers it hadn’t lost in years. Or it could prove to be a galvanizing moment and turning point for the program. In Parapunov, Cowell, Gage Worsley and Gasman, there is a nucleus of talent returning. Of course, Joe Worsley, van Tilburg, Dalton Solbrig and Brett Rosenmeier will be tough to replace, too.

Here’s input from some others in the media and on the team on the 2019 Hawaii men’s volleyball season that was:

The UH Rainbow Warrior faithful were out in full force during the NCAA men’s volleyball championship at the Walter Pyramid. / Photo by Darryl Miho, Special to the Star-Advertiser


  1. Chicken Grease May 5, 2019 7:43 pm

    I dunno how a number 1 seed can have rhe kind of serving errors Hawaii had even in the Lewis game.

    It’s like Duke men’s basketball never dunking in one of THEIR heats in the NCAA tourney.

    It was so simple, Volleyball men. Ridiculous.

  2. iGrokSpock May 6, 2019 9:10 am

    What a great run! Not too shabby to be the second best team in the country. We’ll get them next year.

  3. Vegas808Boi May 6, 2019 9:26 am

    People can rag on the serving errors – when you are trying to serve aggressive and the pressure is on….it’s easier said than done. Yes, I agree it took away from the momentum and makes it hard to string it together, but I honesty believe that they tried their best to keep the pressure on with their serving and for those of you who thinks that its so simple, I don’t think you have ever played in a high pressure game such as the national championship. Just saying… Thank you WARRIOR VOLLEYBALL for playing with so much pride for the 808 and for bringing together the people to cheer on a very special team…. You guys will always be #1 in the hearts of Hawaii!

  4. vballfan May 6, 2019 11:43 am

    3. Mahalo.
    Must keep remembering this fabulous team won the Big West title!!!!!
    To a great group of players: thank you for pouring your hearts and souls into the season+. I am sure you made personal sacrifices in these past four years of your lives to get to the top of your game. Grateful for what you gave us and love that you all get this place: the culture, the natural beauty, and the spirit and soul of this island. The special aloha that reigned down and around you is well deserved.
    Wish there were an official way to follow your professional lives and to see your continued success.
    Mahalo, mahalo.

  5. Chicken Grease May 6, 2019 12:19 pm

    May 6, 2019 9:26 am
    People can rag on the serving errors – when you are trying to serve aggressive and the pressure is on….it’s easier said than done.

    What the heck “easier said than done”?! This men’s volleyball team finally won in Provo!!!

    Everything else should have been easy. After that victory over BYU, this Warrior team was the chosen team.

    They can call me when they win a national championship. I’m not gonna spend my grow old and grey year (far off enough) to see if it happens.

  6. Cindy Luis May 7, 2019 7:24 pm

    In defense of the service errors The Beach had more 23-20

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