Hawaii women’s volleyball: 5 seniors share court for final points of Big West championship win

Hawaii players posed for a Big West championship selfie after sweeping Long Beach State on Friday. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

The stars aligned for the Hawaii women’s volleyball team for the final few points against Long Beach State on a sold-out senior night.

With the “white-out” crowd counting down the points to an outright Big West championship, coach Robyn Ah Mow had one thing left to accomplish: get all five of her seniors on the floor at the same time.

“We were trying to figure out how we were going to do it, because usually Sib (Kirsten Sibley) comes in on the right side,” Ah Mow said. “But if I take one of them out, then one of the setters is coming out.”

>> PHOTO GALLERY: HAWAII BEATS LONG BEACH STATE FOR OUTRIGHT BIG WEST TITLE

She eventually got Sibley in for Brooke Van Sickle, and there they were: setter/hitter Norene Iosia, setter Bailey Choy, hitter McKenna Ross, hitter Sibley, and libero Rika Okino as five of the six on the floor.

“That was so special. I was just about to cry,” said Okino, a Kalani High alumna who is technically a redshirt junior but is graduating and finishing her playing career.

“I’m just glad we were all able to get on the court at the same time.”

With the exception of a quick sub-out of Choy, that group finished off a 25-18, 25-12, 25-20 sweep of The Beach for the team’s 11th straight win and first outright Big West crown since 2016. It was also the first for Ah Mow as a head coach.

“Those last few points I will never forget,” said the ‘Iolani alumna Choy, who transferred home from Utah for her senior year. “I’m just so lucky to be surrounded by (this) group of girls and be part of their senior class, because those girls are amazing.”

“So, I don’t know, it was just an awesome feeling,” Ah Mow said. “Good group of girls. … Norene, Sib, Rossy and Rika, I’ve coached them for the last three years and I’ve seen them grow. Like, 180 (degree) turn. Bailey I obviously knew from before. Having her as an addition, it’s like icing on the cake. These guys, they’re special. Good core group of girls, seniors. We’re going to miss them.”

Here’s post-senior ceremony interviews with Okino, Ross and Choy.

Iosia, who had a career-high seven of UH’s 12 aces, was the singular star of the night, and the crowd acted accordingly. Her traditional taualuga dance in front of dozens of family members was a hit.

UH (24-3, 14-2 Big West) had an RPI of 12 at the start of the week. The Rainbow Wahine now await word if they will be assigned one of 16 subregionals, which typically go to the top 16 teams in RPI.

Hawaii libero Rika Okino raised a Big West championship banner. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

COMMENTS

  1. sports for fun November 23, 2019 9:01 am

    Having the seniors and Rika play the final points together on senior night was a very cool thing by Coach Robyn. Needless to say, Coaching staff is very fond of this group!!


  2. Aiea 7 November 23, 2019 9:50 am

    this was an historic game and win. the team and coaches deserves all the credit. they worked hard, played hard and believed. a relatively small team but they sure were feisty and would not give up. hope they do well in the ncca tournament, they may not win it but they will show that they belong. if they can get a good solid setter, they should be contending again next year. congratulations to the team and coaches, a very successful and exciting year.


  3. shar November 23, 2019 7:46 pm

    It was also a young team. A lot of times, comments like they have a lot of freshmen are reasons for a weak showing. They never said that about us. It was blood, sweat, and tears but I think each and every player realized the fruition of their efforts on Friday night. They showed what dedication and commitment look like.


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