Two years ago, as the state volleyball player of the year at Punahou, Micah Ma'a had a decision to make: which school would he play for at the college level? It came down to Stanford, USC, Hawaii and UCLA. Ma'a chose to experience life outside of the islands in Westwood.
"Looking back, it was a more difficult decision than I probably gave it credit for," said the Bruins sophomore setter/opposite. "But I'm glad I'm where I'm at, and I'm really glad to see Hawaii doing really, really well."
Last year as a freshman, Ma'a took the collegiate volleyball world by storm. He was named AVCA first-team All-America, first team All-MPSF and Off the Block's Server of the Year to name a few. The sky was the limit, but in the fall Ma'a injured his back and was held out of volleyball for significant time. Just over a month ago, Ma'a hurt his lower back again and missed all of March. Dealing with his back is nothing new, having worn a back brace since high school, but the unknown of the injury, and what path to recovery to take, has been difficult.
"It's been a legitimate puzzle that has stumped almost everybody," said Ma'a. "That's been the toughest part."
The Bruins lineup as a whole has been ravaged by injuries this season, but they're getting healthy at just the right time, including Ma'a who returned to action last week against Cal Baptist.
When UCLA hosts UH this weekend, it will be the first time Ma'a and and his teammates are the underdogs against the Rainbow Warriors.
"We know UH is one of the best teams in the country, so we're definitely going to see what we're made out of," said Ma'a. "I just see a really consistent team. I think they represent Hawaii really, really well. I think they represent the style of Hawaii volleyball really, really well, and I'm proud of that."
The 'Bows need just one win to secure home court advantage in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. UCLA is also playing for the right to host. And there's a possibility this is just a warm up as the two rivals could meet again next weekend in the postseason.
"It's definitely going to be playoff volleyball and intensity," said Ma'a. "I'm stoked to play them, and I'm stoked for them."
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