Rainbow Forecast: Basketball teams open Big West; men’s volleyball hosts tournament

Rado Parapunov and company are back in action this weekend at the Stan Sheriff Center. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

Brace yourselves.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday break, because the Hawaii athletics calendar revs back into high gear starting this week.

The UH basketball teams both head to the road to launch Big West Conference play, the men’s volleyball team hosts a three-matches-in-three-days tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center, and the tennis and swimming & diving squads are in action at home on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Without further ado:

Men’s tennis: Duke (0-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 10 a.m.
The Rainbow Warriors launch their spring season with a doozy of a first week — four dual matches against Power Five schools, starting with a two-match set with the Blue Devils of the ACC. UH is led by the returning Big West Freshman of the Year, Andre Ilagan, who went 10-7 in 2019. UH went 7-12 in dual matches last year and the offseason saw 16-year coach John Nelson step down and assistant coach Joel Kusnierz assume the reins.

Men’s tennis: Duke at Hawaii, 10 a.m.
Duke, in its past two meetings with UH, rolled to sweeps of 9-0 (2013) and 7-0 (2011).

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: Wally Nakamoto Diving Invite, TBA
The swim/dive squads are in action for the first time since hosting Georgia Tech on Dec. 17. Earlier in the month, junior Aukai Lileikis set a UH record in the 100 fly, 45.81 seconds, at the U.S. Open Championships in Atlanta.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: Wally Nakamoto Diving Invite, TBA; vs. Wisconsin and Drury, 4 p.m.
Event continues.

Women’s tennis: Weinman Foundation Invitational, 9 a.m.
The Petra Melounova-led Rainbow Wahine host this three-day tournament ahead of the team’s first dual match of the season, vs. Washington on Jan. 15.

Men’s basketball: Hawaii (9-5, 0-0 Big West) at Cal State Fullerton (5-10, 0-0), 5 p.m. (ESPN3, KKEA 1420-AM)
The Titans will be a pretty good litmus test for the Rainbow Warriors right off the bat. Don’t judge CSF too harshly by its record; one of its wins was at UCLA on Dec. 28, 77-74, a signature moment for Dedrique Taylor’s program. CSF missed senior forward Jackson Rowe for the first 11 games of the season, but he’s back now. UH has Eran Ganot back in the fold and UH didn’t miss a beat in his return from a 51-day medical leave, trouncing Maine 91-51 in the nonconference finale. Eddie Stansberry is second among BWC players in scoring at 16.9 points per game, while Zigmars Raimo leads all comers in rebounding at 7.4 per contest.

Women’s basketball: Hawaii (6-7, 0-0 Big West) at Cal State Northridge (5-9, 0-0), 5 p.m. (BigWest.TV)
A very up-and-down nonconference schedule for the Rainbow Wahine included wins over Power Five teams Texas and Washington, and lopsided losses to Idaho and Penn to end the pre-BWC slate. Which Wahine squad will show up for league play? CSUN appears to be a reasonable first foe; the Matadors no longer have beast mode center Channon Fluker. Forward De’Jionae Galloway leads the Matadors with 14.6 ppg, while UH continues to be led by the outside-scoring tandem of Amy Atwell (11.2) and Julissa Tago (12.0).

Men’s volleyball: Emmanuel College (0-0) at Hawaii (2-0), 7 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM OR KHKA 1500-AM)
The Raising Cane’s Rainbow Warrior Classic begins with a Division II opponent hailing from Georgia. UH took care of business in its #WarriorBall20-opening two-match set against Charleston (WV), showcasing a new-look offense at the hands of sophomore setter Jakob Thelle. The Golden Eagles did not crack 20 points in any set in being swept both nights. Can the Warriors keep that up against the Lions? This match follows the first of the day between Harvard and Grand Canyon at 4 p.m.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: Wally Nakamoto Diving Invitational, all day
Event concludes.

Women’s tennis: Weinman Foundation Invitational, 8 a.m.
Event continues.

Men’s volleyball: Harvard (0-0) at Hawaii, 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
The Crimson and the Rainbow Warriors last met on Jan. 8, 2016, a 3-0 UH win. Harvard went 6-16 last season.

Men’s tennis: Arizona (0-0) at Hawaii, TBD
The Pac-12 Wildcats went 17-8 in dual matches last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament. This could be another stern test for the young Warriors.

Women’s tennis: Weinman Foundation Invitational, 8 a.m.
Event concludes.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: Minnesota at Hawaii, noon

Women’s basketball: Hawaii at UC Davis (5-8), noon (BigWest.TV)
Grudge match! Last year’s Big West tournament championship, won 58-50 by the Aggies after upstart UH led most of the way, will surely be fresh on the minds of the Rainbow Wahine for this one. But UCD’s deadly post threat, Morgan Bertsch, is gone, so this will have a decidedly different feel.

Men’s basketball: Hawaii at UC Irvine (8-8, 0-0), 5 p.m. (ESPN3, KKEA 1420-AM)
Always one of the toughest games of the year. Russell Turner’s Anteaters will be well rested compared to UH; this is their conference opener. UH has managed to take a couple in the Bren Events Center, most recently in 2018. UCI is still one of the favorites to win the league; it played a typically tough nonconference schedule. On the plus side, UH slayer Max Hazzard is gone, having transferred to Arizona. The ‘Eaters have plenty of weapons to go to, though, notably forward Collin Welp (14.2 ppg), who’s come off the bench in all but two games this season.

Men’s volleyball: Grand Canyon (0-0) at Hawaii, 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM OR KHKA 1500-AM)
The Antelopes of the MPSF last met UH in the 2017 season, a 3-0 UH win at the Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. GCU went 13-16 last year.

Men’s tennis: Arizona at Hawaii, TBD