The Rainbow Warriors returned to Manoa Friday without a national championship trophy in hand, but they were far from disappointed as the team reflected on their historic 2017 season.
"The wins are significant, the performance on the court is nice," said head coach Charlie Wade. "But my lasting impression will be the character of the young men and how much they cared for each other."
UH's three set loss to Ohio State in Thursday's NCAA Tournament Semifinal brought their mission for a national title to an abrupt and early end. However, when looking back on all the team accomplished this past season, they say there's still plenty to be proud of.
"It's super special," said senior outside hitter Kupono Fey. "We're not looking at anything negative. This team was super successful and I'll remember this year forever. We set a lot of streaks, [we] were undefeated at home... and I'm so fortunate to be on this team and so fortunate to have this season as my last year."
For Fey and his fellow seniors, the legacy they leave behind will be visible in program record books across a number of categories. The 2017 Rainbow Warrior squad set program marks in consecutive sets won, consecutive home matches won, and tied the school record for most matches won in a single season, ending the year 27-6.
"Despite not having a banner up there I think we did some great things," said sophomore All-American opposite Stijn van Tilburg. "Charlie always talks about leaving a legacy behind and having to say that you're part of one of the greatest teams that played volleyball for UH, that is awesome."
The future is bright for Hawaii volleyball. While the team will lose two senior All-Americans in middle blocker Hendrik Mol and setter Jennings Franciskovic, they'll also return two of the country's best in van Tilburg and sophomore libero Larry Tuileta.
"Just immediately after things were done I know a lot of the guys were pretty stoked for next year already," said Tuileta. "We have a lot of returnees coming back and the seniors really set the foundation for guys that we have now."
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