Rainbow Forecast: Big West tournament time for Rainbow Warriors, Wahine; Big West volleyball begins at CSUN

Coach Eran Ganot and Hawaii have gone one-and-done in the Big West tournament the last three years but get another crack at the semifinals this week. / 2018 Star-Advertiser file photo by Darrell Miho

March Madness is upon us.

Not just for the Hawaii men’s and women’s basketball teams, mind you — they are both in action in the Big West tournament this week in Southern California — but for everyone involved in the entire slew of events going on below. It is truly sport crossover season (check out the number of categories checked off above).

But who’s still buzzing from that epic men’s volleyball five-setter with BYU at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday? Rado Parapunov picked up Big West Player of the Week for his career-best 30-kill heroics in that reverse sweep win, but the Cougars supplanted UH at No. 1 for taking five of eight sets overall over two days of competition.

With the volleyball team also away now — the Rainbow Warriors open Big West play at Cal State Northridge on Friday and Saturday — that leaves softball and baseball to hold down the fort at home for the traditional spectator sports. Between the two, they’ll be in action on Lower Campus spanning Wednesday to Sunday. Also, the two tennis teams are both doing well right now and each have two home matches this week.

Back to hoops for a moment — will either squad end the title drought since they double dipped in 2016? We will know by Saturday — or as soon as Thursday. UH had both men’s and women’s representation on the All-Big West first teams announced Monday.

Water polo, beach volleyball, golf and swimming/diving are all on the mainland.

MONDAY
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: NCAA Zone E qualifying
Two sophomores, Daphne Wils (1 meter) and Max Burman (3 meter), qualified for the upcoming NCAA championships with dives scoring 634.80 and 732.90, respectively, at Federal Way, Wash. They will be making their national debuts.

TUESDAY
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: NCAA Zone E qualifying
The diving events are flipped on the second day, with Wils looking to qualify in the 3 meter and Burman in the 1 meter.

Women’s golf: Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational, all day
“The Donnis” is the Rainbow Wahine golf program’s longest-running and marquee event, at Kaneohe Klipper at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. UH is still looking for its first win in it since taking it in the inaugural year of 1986. This year’s 16-team field is headlined by No. 3 Arizona State. The Wahine are coming off a sixth-place finish in the weather-shortened Grand Canyon Invitational.

WEDNESDAY
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: NCAA Zone E qualifying
Event continues.

Women’s golf: Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational, all day
Megan Ratcliffe, now a senior, led UH golfers here last year by tying for 19th with a three-round 227.

Women’s tennis: Liberty (6-4) at Hawaii (5-5), 3:30 p.m.
The Wahine tennis squad is feeling good about itself, having strung together three straight dual match wins, including a 4-3 televised edging of Long Beach State to improve to 2-0 in Big West play. Over the weekend, Petra Melounova repeated as the UH women’s Big West scholar athlete of the year for 2019.

Softball: Texas Tech (16-9) at Hawaii (9-13), 5 p.m.; No. 18 Minnesota (14-9-1) at Hawaii, 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KHKA 1500-AM)
The Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic opens up with a bang. Will UH be ready for it with a bye week to rest up following a 1-5 showing in its last home tournament? This is the last nonconference tournament of the season, and last chance for UH to notch a marquee win over a Power Five opponent (it went 0-2 against Oregon State in the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament). No easy task with TTU and UM having faced a boatload of ranked opponents this year.

Women’s basketball: No. 4 Hawaii (15-14) vs. TBD, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3, KKEA 1420-AM)
There’s a better-than-even chance the “TBD” here will be Long Beach State, the fifth-seeded team in the eight-team field and the host of the first two rounds. LBSU (13-16) just has to beat No. 8 Cal Poly (9-18) on Tuesday for that to come to fruition. UH similarly faced a lower-seeded and host Long Beach team in Laura Beeman’s second season of 2013-14, beating the Beach at the Pyramid 52-49 to advance to the semis at the Honda Center. The Wahine may have to replicate that feat, or head home. But, were Cal Poly to pull off the upset of LBSU, UH would face the winner of No. 6 Cal State Fullerton (16-13) and No. 7 Cal State Northridge (12-18) instead.

THURSDAY
Men’s tennis: Washington of St. Louis (3-4) at Hawaii (9-6), TBD
It’s a double non-Division I opponent week for the Rainbow Warriors. UH is coming off a 1-1 showing at the Golden State Invitational at Sacramento State, an extension of a week-plus road trip that saw UH go 4-2 in dual matches. Blaz Seric won Big West Player of the Week on March 4 after the Pacific Central Valley Championships, giving UH a third weekly honor this season after Andre Ilagan took it twice in February.

Women’s tennis: North Texas (7-6) at Hawaii, 3:30 p.m. (Spectrum Sports)
The Mean Green have lost four straight matches by scores of either 4-3 or 4-2.

Men’s basketball: No. 4 Hawaii vs. No. 5 UC Davis, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3, KKEA 1420-AM)
It’s tough to beat a team three times, as the saying goes. It’s tougher still to beat a team three times on buzzer-beating baskets. Will that be what it takes for UH to notch its first Big West tournament victory since going all the way in 2016? The ‘Bows downed the Aggies at the Stan Sheriff Center and at The Pavilion on 3-pointers in the left corner from Eddie Stansberry and Samuta Avea, respectively. On the other hand, UH has gone down to buzzer beaters at Honda Center in the first round in each of the last two years, to UC Irvine and Long Beach State. It’s hard to imagine this one will be as painful for anyone, no matter the result here.

Softball: Drexel (4-6) at Hawaii, 6 p.m. (KHKA 1500-AM)
On paper, this is UH’s best opportunity to pick up a win to this point in this four-team tournament. The Dragons have not faced a Power Five foe until this event. The Wahine pitching will be sorely tested on Day 1, so this could be an opportunity to bring down some ERAs for a team that averaged 4.44 allowed in the last tournament.

FRIDAY
Men’s golf: Grand Canyon Invitational, all day
UH freshman Kotaro Murata is the reigning Big West Golfer of the Month after he tied for 10th in the Amer Ari Invitational and tied for seventh in the John A. Burns Intercollegiate, two stacked events in the islands. UH heads to Phoenix for the first of two events in Arizona.

Track and field: Rainbow Relays, TBD
The first day of a two-day event on the new track at the T.C. Ching Athletics Complex.


Water polo: No. 4 Hawaii (11-2) at No. 10 UC San Diego (13-7), 3 p.m.
The Wahine poolsters are back in action at last, and should get a strong test here from the future Big West member Tritons in their home pool. UH last went 2-2 at the stacked Barbara Kalbus Invitational at UC Irvine, losing to then-No. 1 Stanford 12-9 and No. 2 UCLA 10-5 in their last two matches of what could’ve been an NCAA tournament preview.

Men’s volleyball: No. 2 Hawaii (15-1, 0-0 Big West) at Cal State Northridge (4-11, 0-0), 4 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
The Big West opener for both teams. Last time UH played at the Matadome in 2018, it was a nightmare of a road trip; UH lost in three on consecutive nights, then lost at Pepperdine in a nonconference tilt, a stretch that may have cost the Warriors at at-large berth to the NCAAs that year. But even after having taken their first loss of the season to BYU, and lost their No. 1 ranking, UH heads into this swing feeling pretty good about itself coming off the reverse sweep of new No. 1 BYU.

Softball: Minnesota at Hawaii, 6 p.m.
The Gophers went 2-1 against Big West competition at the UCLA/Long Beach Tournament last week, losing to Cal State Fullerton but beating the Beach and Cal Poly.

Baseball: Chicago State (2-14) at Hawaii (11-6), 6:35 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM joined in progress)
At last check, this series is still happening; Chicago State drew headlines in recent days for cancelling men’s and women’s basketball games in the WAC due to the coronavirus threat. The Cougars are one of the worst teams in the country and have lost eight in a row. It’ll probably be 10 by the time this game is played, as they play a two-game set at Louisville on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Men’s basketball: Big West semifinals, 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
UH last appeared in the semifinals in 2016, although UH could’ve and probably should’ve advanced to the semis in each of the last two years after building up big leads against UCI and LBSU, then falling on the aforementioned buzzer-beaters.

Women’s basketball: Big West semifinals, 9 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. (ESPN3)
The Wahine are looking to make a return appearance to the semis after starting there last year as the No. 2 seed. Were they to make it this far, they would probably face top-seeded UC Davis — the team that knocked them out in the final last year — at the Honda Center.

SATURDAY
Beach volleyball: UAB vs. No. 4 Hawaii (7-2), 4 a.m.; vs. No. 3 Florida State, 8 a.m.
The SandBows are ranging far and wide in the search of meaningful opposition. After taking a week off, they’ve got a mixed bag on Day 1 of the Stetson Beach Blast at Deland, Fla., facing the unranked Blazers and one of the other elite teams in the country in the Seminoles.

Men’s golf: Grand Canyon Invitational, all day
Event concludes.

Track and field: Rainbow Relays, TBA
Event concludes.

Water polo: No. 4 Hawaii at No. 16 San Diego State, 9:15 a.m.; vs. Wagner, 3 p.m.
UH opens SDSU’s Aztec Invitational against the host Aztecs. By this point, the Wahine will have been accustomed to challenging matches on the road.

Men’s tennis: Hawaii Hilo (1-3) vs. Hawaii, 11 a.m.
In this battle of sister schools, UH will be the first Division I opponent of the season for UHH.

Softball: Drexel at Hawaii, noon
Shortstop Nawai Kaupe leads UH with a .353 batting average through 22 games, though catcher/first baseman Callee Heen is not far behind at .349. Third baseman Cheeks Ramos is also batting over .300, at .309. Those three have combined for 16 of UH’s 27 home runs this season.

Baseball: Chicago State at Hawaii, 1:05 p.m., 4:05 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
First (and only) double dip of the season! UH went 1-3 on doubleheader days last season.

Men’s volleyball: No. 2 Hawaii at Cal State Northridge, 4 p.m.
Matadors middle Daniel Wetter leads all Big West players in hitting percentage, at .530.

Men’s basketball: Big West finals, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
UH is 1-1 in Big West finals, having lost to UC Irvine in 2015 and beaten Long Beach State in 2016.

Women’s basketball: Big West finals, noon (ESPN3)
The Wahine are 1-2 in Big West finals since rejoining the league in 2012-13, having lost to Cal State Northridge in 2015 and UC Davis in 2019, and beating Davis in 2016.

SUNDAY
Beach volleyball: No. 4 Hawaii at No. 11 Stetson (8-6), 4 a.m.; vs. No. 6 USC (5-4), 10 a.m.
Hawaii knocked out Stetson in last year’s double-elimination NCAA tournament, so no doubt the Hatters are mad with revenge on their minds. And SC’s record is deceptive; the Trojans have played a stacked slate so far.


Water polo: Hawaii vs. No. 17 Harvard, 5 a.m.; vs. No. 20 Princeton, 10 a.m.
UH will feel a whole lot smarter if it comes away from the Ivy League swing through this event unscathed. It already beat Princeton 16-3 on Feb. 2 at Arizona State’s tournament.

Baseball: Chicago State at Hawaii, 1:05 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
Shortstop Kole Kaler is the reigning Big West Field Player of the Week after batting .462 (6-for-13) to help the ‘Bows take three of four games from Oregon last weekend. It was the first Big West weekly award for Kaler. He’s batting .407 overall, with a Big West-high 24 hits.

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