Rainbow Forecast: Warrior volleyball hits the road; 2 basketball doubleheaders; Wahine tennis and water polo begin

Hawaii’s Samuta Avea, seen here in UH's last home game against Maine on Dec. 28, returns to the Stan Sheriff Center this week for a pair of doubleheaders along with the UH women's basketball team. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

The top-ranked Hawaii men’s volleyball team certainly looked legitimate at home playing against unranked competition.

How will the Rainbow Warriors fare on the road against some ranked foes?

That’s one of the big questions in UH athletics this week — UH plays four straight on the mainland, starting with two this weekend — but there’s also a pair of basketball doubleheaders at the Stan Sheriff Center (Thursday and Saturday) to occupy your time. The Rainbow Warriors and Wahine hoops squads are looking to get back in the win column in the Big West after both losing to the respective defending conference champ on the road on Saturday.

The UH women’s tennis and water polo squads open their 2020 seasons at home this week, as well. Weather permitting, in the case of tennis; that messed up UH men’s tennis last week quite a bit, washing out three of four scheduled dual matches.

Also, the UH baseball and softball teams held their first full practice of their respective 2020 seasons on Monday.

The UH baseball team took the field for its first full practice of 2020. / Photo by Brian McInnis

MONDAY
Men’s tennis: Arizona (0-0) at Hawaii (0-1), 9 a.m.
After both UH-UA dual matches were rained out over the weekend, the schools agreed to resume play this morning under overcast skies. Rain was still a factor.

WEDNESDAY
Women’s tennis: Washington (3-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 3 p.m.
The No. 14 Huskies got underway in earnest last weekend, sweeping Portland State, Eastern Washington and Seattle by identical 7-0 dual match scores, dropping only one set along the way. Three-time Big West Player of the Year Petra Melounova and UH make their official 2020 debuts after its rain-soaked Weinman Foundation Invitational last weekend, in which the Wahine took four of the five singles matches they played.

THURSDAY
Women’s basketball: UC Riverside (5-10, 1-0 Big West) at Hawaii (6-9, 0-2), 5:30 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
In the first of two hoops doubleheaders of the week, the Rainbow Wahine will attempt to end their recent slide — they’ve dropped four in a row, including going oh-fer on their league-opening two-game road trip. At question is the health of forward Amy Atwell, who was the team’s leading scorer going into last week before getting hurt in the first half at Cal State Northridge (and before Julissa Tago erupted for 25 in a loss at UC Davis). UH last got off to a 0-3 start in 2018, when they went 5-11 in the BWC, so they probably want to avoid heading that direction by making a stand against versatile Jannon Otto and the Highlanders.

Men’s basketball: Cal Poly (4-12, 1-1 Big West) at Hawaii (10-6, 1-1), 8 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Yes, Hawaii had a setback in losing by 14 points at UC Irvine on Saturday, but it wasn’t wholly unexpected — the Bren Center is a tough place to play and UCI clearly still has the best frontcourt in the Big West. So, UH needs to take advantage of its four-game homestand, starting with Cal Poly. CP, meanwhile, was picked to finish last in the league under new coach John Smith, who took over for longtime leader Joe Callero last offseason. The Mustangs are coming off a somewhat surprising 18-point home win over CSUN on Saturday to get themselves on the Big West board, and heck, right in the mix for now. Tuukka Jaakkola scored a career-high 17 to help do it.


FRIDAY
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: at UCLA Bruin Diving Invitational, all day
The UH men (133-129) and women (178-84) are coming off respective defeats to Minnesota on Saturday. Now they head to the road for the first time since early December for this three-day meet in L.A.

Men’s volleyball: No. 1 Hawaii (5-0) at No. 5 Lewis (3-1), 3 p.m.
The Rainbow Warriors breezed through their first five matches at home, not allowing any opponent to score higher than 20 points in any set. Well, this is where the degree of difficulty ramps up considerably, and not just because it’s the road. The Flyers, in Romeoville, Ill., are the first roadblock on this four-match trip that could determine whether these ‘Bows deserve to remain in the same lofty conversation for a national title as last year’s group was.

SATURDAY
Track and field: Sunrise Meet No. 1
The brand-new track at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex sees its very first meet.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: at UCLA Bruin Diving Invitational, all day
Event continues.

Women’s tennis: Florida State (0-0) at Hawaii, 10 a.m.
The Seminoles take on Washington in their season opener Friday at the UH Tennis Complex before meeting the Rainbow Wahine the next day. FSU went 21-7 in dual matches last year.

Water polo: Loyola Marymount (0-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 10:30 a.m.; Fresno State at Hawaii, 6 p.m.
The defending Big West champion Rainbow Wahine, 18-6 last year, get underway in Maureen Cole’s ninth season at the helm with the four-team 2020 Rainbow Invite. They lost key players from their NCAA tournament team in Irene Gonzalez and Femke Aan to graduation, and notable players with eligibility remaining — Maxine Schaap and Elise Lemay-Lavoie, the team’s second- and third-leading scorers in 2019 — are not listed on the 2020 roster. Junior Carmen Baringo is the top returning scorer with 26 goals and 32 assists (58 points).

Men’s volleyball: No. 1 Hawaii at No. 12 Loyola-Chicago (1-3), 3 p.m.
The Ramblers got off to a rough start, beating King then losing three straight to BYU, at UC San Diego and at UC Irvine. Charlie Wade’s group will look to add to their woes.

Women’s basketball: Cal State Fullerton (10-5, 2-0) at Hawaii, 5:30 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Under third-year coach and Hawaii native Jeff Harada, the program is definitely on an upswing. The Titans’ 6-10 record in 2018-19 was their best BWC mark in five years. Well, he has them looking for more this year behind one of the top scorers in the country, and the highest in the league by a long shot, guard Raina Perez (21.5 points per game). Harada, the former HPU coach, was turned back by the Wahine in his first two trips to the Stan Sheriff Center (59-54 in 2018 and 70-55 in 2019).

Men’s basketball: UC Santa Barbara (12-5, 1-1) at Hawaii, 8 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Joe Pasternack’s Gauchos had a curious stumble at home on Saturday, falling 55-52 to a raw Long Beach State team after thumping Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo a couple days prior. UCSB routed UH in Honolulu last year, so it will be interesting to see if the Rainbows can close the gap a little here this time; the Gauchos were clearly the more talented team last time around. Junior guard JaQuori McLaughlin leads UCSB with 15.2 ppg, while forward/center Amadou Sow adds 14.1 on 55.3 percent shooting. Max Heidegger is still not his old self after dealing with another head injury this season; he’s put in 12.7, but only in seven games played.


SUNDAY
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving: at UCLA Bruin Diving Invitational, all day
Event concludes.

Water polo: Marist (0-0) at Hawaii, 10:15 a.m.
The Rainbow Wahine conclude their season-opening tournament against the Red Foxes, whom they beat 17-3 in this tournament this time a year ago.

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