HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just one season removed from a 24-win season and appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years, the University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team was picked No. 7 in the preseason 2016 AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll.
BYU was voted No. 1 followed by UC Irvine, Loyola-Chicago, Long Beach State, UCLA, Ohio State, UH, Lewis, UC Santa Barbara, and Penn State. Rounding out the Top 15 were Pepperdine, Southern California, Stanford, and Ball State and George Mason (t-15th).
Of UH's 27 regular season matches in 2016, 17 are against nationally ranked teams including home series against No. 1 BYU (March 2 & 4), No. 2 UC Irvine (March 25-26), No. 4 Long Beach State (Feb. 24 & 26), and No. 5 UCLA (Feb. 5-6).
The Rainbow Warriors return four starters from a year ago, which saw the team reach the NCAA Tournament Play-In match and record the most victories since 2003. UH finished runner-up in the highly competitive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and ascended to the No. 1 national ranking during the season for the first time in a decade. UH finished the season ranked No. 6.
Among the returnees include setter Jennings Franciskovic and outside hitter Kupono Fey, both of whom competed for the United States Junior National Team over the summer at the Pan American Cup and World Junior Championships. Outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic returns for his senior season as well as libero Kolby Kanetake.
UH welcomes a solid recruiting class of which five players were Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selections, including Joe Worlsey, who competed with the U.S. Youth National Team and Patrick Gasman, an AVCA High School All-American.
Head coach Charlie Wade returns for his seventh season at the helm of the Rainbow Warriors and welcomes former Rainbow Warrior Joshua Walker to the coaching staff. UH opens the season by hosting the 22nd Outrigger Resorts Invitational, featuring national runner-up Lewis, Harvard, and King University, Jan. 7-8, and 10 at the Stan Sheriff Center.