With the Rainbow Wahine beach volleyball season coming to an end last weekend and UH graduation being held this weekend, the end of the road in Manoa for volleyball star Nikki Taylor has come.
A highly sought-after outside hitter from Kaiser High School, Taylor had an opportunity to play at Nebraska, and very nearly did, where she would have won a national championship. Instead the local star stayed home and was the centerpiece of the program, putting together one of the most impressive UH athletic resumes.
"At the time of signing my letter of intent, I don't think that I had thought I would have been able to accomplish all that I did in my four year career," Taylor recalls.
"She's going to be missed," said UH beach volleyball head coach and former indoor assistant Jeff Hall. "Those are some big shoes to fill. She's put herself up there in maybe the top ten of all-time as a player on the indoor side and set records on the beach side."
Taylor is the winningest beach player in program history and was twice named an AVCA All-American and to the All Big West First-team. In the rich history of Rainbow Wahine indoor volleyball, Taylor ranks twelfth all-time in kills and eighth all-time in aces.
She is the ninth UH player to win multiple conference player of the year awards and just the sixth to be named first-team all conference in all four years.
"Eventually she can look back on those things and hang her hat on it," said Hall. "But the really neat thing about Nikki is that isn't what it was about. She just wanted to win, and I give her a lot of credit for that."
On top of the accolades, Taylor leaves Manoa with a new understanding of what it is to be a Rainbow Wahine.
"It doesn't only mean that you're a volleyball player," said Taylor. "Being the person, the volleyball player, the female that people look up to, that little girls idolize. I don't think I really, truly recognized that it was all of that."
"Her legacy is vast and it will be felt for a long time," Hall said. "We'll refer to Nikki for a longtime in the program. She'll keep living on, but she's going to be hard to replace."
Taylor is in the process of finding an agent as she prepares for the next chapter of her life, playing professional indoor volleyball. When she walks across the stage Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center to receive her diploma, she'll look back fondly on the memories made over the last four years.
"I think my biggest honor was being able to be a part of something that was a lot bigger than myself."
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