Hawaii women’s volleyball: Rainbow Wahine finish No. 15 in final AVCA poll

Robyn Ah Mow and her Rainbow Wahine finished the season No. 15 in the AVCA poll after losing to Nebraska in the Wisconsin Regional on Dec. 14. / Photo by Andy Manis, Special to the Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii women’s volleyball team was ranked No. 15 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I Top 25 poll on Monday.

The Rainbow Wahine (26-4) were at No. 18 heading into the NCAA tournament where they were the 12th seed. Hawaii, hosting a subregional for the first time since 2013, defeated Northern Colorado and San Diego at the Stan Sheriff Center then lost to Nebraska in the third round in Madison, Wis.

Stanford (30-4) was the unanimous No. 1 after sweeping Wisconsin on Saturday for the NCAA championship. The Badgers (27-7) finished at No. 2 followed by Baylor (29-2), Minnesota (27-6) and Nebraska (28-5).

Hawaii was the only Big West team ranked in the final poll. UC Santa Barbara received 52 points, putting the Gauchos outside the Top 25 at 27th, and Cal Poly was at 32 with five points.


  1. roygbivs December 24, 2019 2:10 am

    We have to wait til August2020 😳

    Next year begins …
    Recruit 2 TERMINATORS, another setter, and a libero.
    Gel more in spring…
    Expansion Big West teams to 11

    Can’t wait for next season!

  2. tongo December 24, 2019 8:38 am

    From unranked to 15th in the AVCA poll, congrats for a great season. What a marked improvement.

  3. blunite December 24, 2019 9:44 am

    – The low ranking bodes ill for Mike Sealy, UCLA coach (former Hawaii Asst. coach); especially, in light of Madeleine Gates transfer (early graduation) to Stanford without his knowledge. She was All PAC-12 1st Team and an All American.

    – Washington is ranked below Nebraska despite beating Wisconsin twice and Stanford once. While Nebraska lost to Wisconsin 3 times and to Stanford once?

    Makes you wonder just how far Hawaii is from the top after they crunched Washington and gave Nebraska a run for their money. If the passing by the OH’s improves Hawaii can easily make the top 10 next year. The one area that Nebraska shut down (the middle) is being bolstered by Anna Kirali’s arrival.

  4. Matt December 24, 2019 9:48 am

    In terms of how much this team has matured, I think it’s evident that they need to continue staying hot, especially if Robyn does plan a rigorous 2020 schedule. Amber Igiede and Hanna Hellvig, the two freshman sensations, probably will be a reckonable force in 2020. Riley Wagoner, Braelyn Akana and Tiffany Westerberg have had flashes of brilliance. The expectations are going to be huge for Robyn because, well…it hinges on these things:

    1) If she continues to run the 6-2 rotation, where will she get her 2nd setter on? Another freshman or a transfer?

    2) Will Jolie remain a 100 percent Jolie heading into 2020? She did clamor that she vowed to go through a season fully healthy and if she endures the same injury like how she did against West Virginia, chances are that it may not happen for her.

    3) Building the freshman-to-sophomores their confidence. Braelyn, Riley and Tiffany have had shown flashes of brilliance, but Robyn’s kept them out for most of the season. Hanna and Amber have gained confidence as the season progressed, but Igiede has improved greatly after a shaky first few weeks. Hanna, if she can continue to play with poise like how she’s proven to be, I think we could have another Nikki Taylor in the making.

    4) Skyler Williams leading the middle brigade. She’ll be heading into this as the only senior in the middle blocker brigade, with a set of underclassmen in the middle. Kamalei (Although, not sure if she’ll be back because of a left knee brace) could be the next closest player with experience in the middle [3rd year sophomore(?)], and three freshman-turned-sophomores. It’s important for Skyler to let the middles know what’s expected of them and have them build their confidence.

    5) Robyn needs to establish the utility players their roles. In the second year, Kamalei was mentioned as an outside, but Robyn put her in the middle in her 8 appearances (Perhaps for versatility). Robyn tried to put Tiffany on the outside hitter position in one game, and backfired. Brooke’s versatility is fine, especially when she can play good defense and hit a mean ball. Is Robyn going to stick with Braelyn in the middle? The roster does say that Braelyn’s both an outside hitter and middle, and in fact, has had maybe one game where she was the outside hitter (I think?).

    6) Staying healthy. During their 2019 exhibition match against Texas, the team got hit with the flu bug and having the team overwork Skyler as their full-on middle. Kamalei’s knee brace, Jolie’s ankle, and Brooke’s knee did have some significance in the 2019 season. It’s important if the injuries will be healed heading into 2020.

    7) Will Janelle Gong get more time as their serving specialist? She’s only been in three games and because of the departures of Rika Okino and Bailey Choy, their primary servers, they’re probably going to need someone to serve the ball for if the rotation does require substituting their middle. Igiede has a nifty changeup type of serve, and she’s practically everything for the team; defense, offense, and serving. Could we see more of Igiede serving, perhaps? Hanawahine has gotten more action as their serving specialist, and she could use a backup just in case they need depth.

    8) Finding replacements for the players that departed in 2019. The team has found already two recruits, a setter and a middle. Both are freshmen, but Robyn I’m sure is probably looking to get creative with recruiting. The thing she needs to replace is another setter (If they are looking to go 6-2 again), a libero, and a hitter. The depth at the middle rises to 6 players, and Robyn could use another libero once Hanawahine graduates in 2020.

    9) The three Oregon transfers setting the tone. Kyra, Brooke, and Jolie will return with high expectations. And with them being seniors, it’s important if their leadership shows in the court. Brooke and Jolie return with a good portion of the teams’ kills, digs, and blocks. (311 kills, 235 digs, 61 blocks), Kyra (35 digs) may get more action as their libero due to the departure of Rika Okino.

    10) Can the 2020 team turn up the boosters and start fast like how they did in 2019? Hawaii set a high standard well, going 10 games straight to start, before losing to Baylor in 3. However, following the loss to UCI in 5 in conference and Cal Poly in 3, it looked like it was out of impossible to get the title, however, thanks to some outside help, and an 11-game win streak to end the regular season, somehow we got the title. The streak rose to 13 wins before losing to Nebraska. Now is a matter of if the maturity of the team starts to blossom and see if they have improved over the course of the 2019 season.

  5. Cindy Luis December 24, 2019 2:53 pm

    new thread up with VolleyballMag.com’s all-freshman honors.
    2-3. it’s 60 coaches voting. The points fall where they fall.
    3. As for Sealy, they didn’t make the NCAA tournament in 18, made it this year. that’s an improvement.
    Gates didn’t need a release since she had graduated.

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