Rainbow Forecast: New Year heralds return of Hawaii men’s volleyball

Some of the Rainbow Warriors in the background of the NCAA national championship on May 4 will get a chance to step forward in 2020. / Photo by Darrell Miho, Special to the Star-Advertiser

How recent it felt that the sold-out Stan Sheriff Center rocked like rarely felt before and the Rainbow Warrior volleyball team hoisted the Big West championship trophy after an epic five-set battle against rival Long Beach State.

That was April 20, the capper to the home schedule of #WarriorBall19. UH went on to lose a tough one to The Beach in the NCAA championship at The Pyramid, but the memories of that home matchup endure.

Well, it’s just about to be a new year — new decade, even — and #WarriorBall20 is here. Charlie Wade’s top-ranked Warriors host Charleston on Jan. 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) at the Sheriff.

But first, the Rainbow Wahine basketball team hosts Pennsylvania on New Year’s Eve, the last event of Hawaii athletics’ 2019 calendar year.

Have a Happy New Year, all.

Women’s basketball: Pennsylvania (8-1) at Hawaii (6-6), 2 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
The Wahine enjoyed a 10-day gap since their last game, a 67-52 loss at Idaho, after which the team went its separate ways over the holidays. They’ve reconvened in Honolulu in time to host Penn for their nonconference finale. It should be a real tester; the Quakers of the Ivy League have lost but once this year, at Duke. They’re 3-0 on the road otherwise and sport a four-game winning streak. They sport a ridiculous scoring margin of plus-21.8, which ranks 17th in women’s Division I. Freshman guard Kayla Padilla averages 19.4 points per game, 20th nationally. Meanwhile, Julissa Tago (11.5 ppg) and Amy Atwell (11.2) continue to shoulder much of the scoring load for UH. This is UH’s last home game until hosting UC Riverside on Jan. 16.

Men’s volleyball: Charleston (0-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Rado Parapunov, Colton Cowell, Patrick Gasman, Gage Worsley and company charge headlong into a fresh season as a favorite to win the national championship. They begin with a first-time foe, the Eagles of Charleston, a member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. UH carries in a 17-match home winning streak, and is 46-4 at the SSC since the start of the 2017 season. The biggest change will be at setter, with dynamic Joe Worsley gone. And, of course, UH lost steady Stijn van Tilburg, the “Flying Dutchman,” and middle Dalton Solbrig from one of the most popular teams in program history. UH is 32-9 in season openers, including 8-2 under Wade. The Warriors were 28-3 last year (all three losses were to national champion Long Beach State) and Charleston was 9-20.

Men’s volleyball: Charleston at Hawaii, 7 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
Note that this game is not being televised. One more men’s volleyball note: UH begins the season ranked No. 1 for the fourth time in program history, although this is the first time since the creation of the AVCA preseason poll that UH was anointed the top spot. The previous times (1989, 1996, 2003) UH was picked No. 1 in the first regular-season poll.