Hawaii women’s volleyball: History of rare Wahine pre-conference road trips

Hawaii celebrated a point against Colorado in the NCAA tournament second round at the Special Events Arena, later called the Stan Sheriff Center. That season was the first time UH took a road trip ahead of conference play. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Kathryn Bender.

This week’s Hawaii road trip to the Baylor Classic will likely test Robyn Ah Mow’s No. 13 Rainbow Wahine in ways that they’ve yet to be tested.

UH (9-0) takes on No. 17 Missouri (8-0) on Saturday and No. 5 Baylor (7-0) on Sunday in Waco, Texas. The teams are among the handful of remaining unbeatens in the country. Mizzou and Baylor square off today.

It’s the first pre-conference road trip in Ah Mow’s three years, and just the sixth time the program has undertaken such a trip. Under Dave Shoji from the 1990s and on, the Wahine rarely strayed from the Stan Sheriff Center (or Klum Gym in its latter days) until they had to because of the competitive and financial incentive of playing before large home crowds.

To date, the Rainbow Wahine have compiled a 6-4 record on pre-conference trips.

Midseason trips were commonplace in the 1980s — at that time, the Wahine would take one or two excursions for events as a D-I independent and in their early days as a conference member in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. But in those days UH would play PCAA matches very early in the season, and intersperse multi-team mainland events along the way, so the formula was a little different.

If Ah Mow’s response to a question this week about how the trip came to be was any indication, there could be an uptick in such trips in future seasons given the modern economics of college athletics.

“One, it’s hard to bring teams here. They want more guarantees and stuff, and we can’t give it to them,” Ah Mow said. “(We) went to admin and asked them ‘hey, if we can pull this off, can we go on the third weekend, or the last weekend?’ That’s how it came about.”

UH will remain on the mainland for the start of Big West play next week, at Long Beach State and CSUN.

Most recently, the Wahine went to the Shocker Volleyball Classic at Wichita State in 2013, beating all three opponents they faced.

Here’s all instances UH played a pre-conference event on the mainland. Only one time (1999) did UH play a stand-alone game on the mainland before conference play.

Note: UH has often scheduled nonconference games between conference contests on the mainland, and between the WAC and NCAA tournaments near the end of the season. Those will not be counted for these purposes.

Shocker Volleyball Classic (Wichita, Kan.)
Vs. South Dakota, 3-0 W
Vs. Creighton, 3-2 W
At Wichita State, 3-0 W
Season result: Second round (25-5)

AVCA/NACWAA Volleyball Showcase (Omaha, Neb.)
Vs. Nebraska, 0-3 L
Vs. Penn State, 0-3 L
Season result: NCAA regional (27-7)

State Farm’s NACWAA Classic (Stockton, Calif.)
Vs. Nebraska, 0-3 L
Vs. Wisconsin, 0-3 L
Season result: NCAA regional (29-6)

At California, 3-0 W
Season result: NCAA regional (29-2)

State Farm’s NACWAA Classic (Normal, Ill.)
Vs. Florida, 3-2 W
Vs. Nebraska, 3-0 W
Season result: NCAA finals (35-3)