Is success contagious for University of Hawaii football and women’s volleyball?

Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was hugged by teammate Michael Lafaele after a win over San Jose State on Oct. 12, 2007. UH's women's volleyball team was also highly successful during that WAC championship year. / Associated Press file photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

It was Championship Weekend for University of Hawaii sports.

On Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center, the women’s volleyball team swept Long Beach State to become outright champions of the Big West Conference.

The next night, at Aloha Stadium, the football team edged San Diego State 14-11 to clinch the Mountain West Conference’s West Division title — the first championship of any kind for the football team since 2010.

The Wahine (24-3, 14-2 Big West) haven’t lost since Oct. 11 — a run of 11 matches. They haven’t even dropped a set since beating UC Davis in four on Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, the football team is 8-4 headed into Saturday’s regular-season finale hosting Army, after winning its last three in a row to capture the division title for the first time since joining the Mountain West for football in 2012.

UH plays at Boise State for the conference championship on Dec. 7. On that night, the volleyball team hopes to be in the second round of the NCAA tournament, following its first-round match Dec. 5. The opponent is yet to be determined; UH is hoping the site will be the Stan Sheriff Center, where a full house of 10,000-plus watched Friday’s victory over The Beach.

This is the first time Hawaii is playing in a football conference championship game; they didn’t have them in the Western Athletic Conference.

FOR FUN, we took a look at how the nationally prominent Wahine volleyball program did the four years when football won at least a share of the WAC championship.

Football (11-2): The ‘Bows went 6-2 to tie for the conference championship, and advanced to the Holiday Bowl by virtue of tiebreaker. Hawaii beat Illinois 27-17 in its first mainland bowl appearance.

Volleyball (15-12): It was an off-year for the Wahine, who were 11-7 for fourth in the Big West.

Football (9-4): After an 0-12 disaster the year before, June Jones was hired and coached UH to what was then the greatest turnaround in college football history, including a victory over Oregon State in the Oahu Bowl.

Volleyball (29-2): This stellar squad blasted through all 14 WAC matches. But UH fell in the third round of the NCAA tournament, to Texas A&M. It was a golden opportunity for a possible fifth national championship, since Hawaii was hosting the regionals and the final four.

Football (12-1): UH went unbeaten against a weak regular-season schedule, and won the WAC title outright for the first time. But then the Warriors got crushed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Volleyball (27-6): Hawaii won the WAC, going 15-1. The Wahine made it to the regional final in the NCAAs.

Football (10-4): The co-WAC champions’ regular season featured knocking off previously undefeated Nevada. The Warriors lost to Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl.

Volleyball (29-3): The Wahine swept the WAC (16-0). But they lost in the NCAA tournament second round.

NOW LET’S see how football did the four times the Wahine won the national championship. While Dave Shoji’s program was at its peak, the football program coached by Dick Tomey was in its early years in the WAC and building up a foundation to a level of success that would peak in 1992 championship season under Bob Wagner mentioned above.

Volleyball (36-5): An undersized but gritty team with just one 6-footer, sophomore middle Diane Sebastian, battled back from 0-2 to beat defending champion Utah State in the national title match.

Football (6-5): In UH’s first year in the WAC, the Rainbow Warriors were 3-4 in conference. The season ended with a 29-17 victory over Arizona State, and UH went a combined 17-5 the next two years.

Volleyball (33-1): Shoji was national coach of the year, and Hawaii beat USC in the NCAA title match, again coming back from a two-set deficit.

Football (6-5): UH, which went 4-4 in the conference, started the season strong but lost three of its last four games.

Volleyball (34-2): The Wahine became the first volleyball program in NCAA history to win back-to-back national titles, with Deitre Collins accepting her second national player of the year award, as well as the Broderick Cup, which goes to the top female college athlete in any sport.

Football (5-5-1): Hawaii’s 3-3-1 WAC record included a tie with San Diego State. The ‘Bows played Oklahoma close, 21-17, in the season finale.

Volleyball (37-2): The Wahine beat Stanford in four sets for the national title after taking down nemesis Pacific in the regional final.

Football (5-7): It was a transition year, as former defensive coordinator Wagner’s first team as head coach went 3-5 in the WAC.


  1. UncleFester November 27, 2019 9:38 pm

    Silly nonsense. There is no cause and effect relationship between any of that. Pure coincidence. Let’s look across the country and see how many times that didn’t happen.

  2. Aiea 7 November 27, 2019 9:48 pm

    is rolo going to coach at another school next year? ie UNLV? guess it all depends of the money, if uh can match or beat the salaries the other schools can offer. cannot fault rolo if he goes, it is about career development and money. believe uh offered JJ to stay before he want to smu about $2 million, maybe offer rolo as much adjusted for inflation, he might stay.

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