HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team opened preseason camp earlier this week, new head Coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said she planned on upping the intensity, while making her team go back to the basics. In the early days of camp, she says her team will be focusing solely on individual skill work for the time being because, according to the former All-American, it's that focus on the fundamentals that will ultimately allow her team to move past some major off-season losses.
"I told them in our meeting. I said 'Hey I get it, we lost some key players,' you know, Nikki Taylor, Annie Mitchem," said Ah Mow-Santos of U.H.'s two dominant seniors in 2016. "But, we got to get more ball control going. Get better passing going and see if we can get more players incorporated in the offense."
Last spring, Hawaii saw Nikki Taylor, one of the most dominant U.H. players in recent memory, collect her diploma - ending an era in Manoa. During her time with Hawaii she was a two-time all-American and a two-time Big West conference player of the year. Along with the six-foot-four opposite, the Rainbow Wahine also lost six-foot-three middle hitter, Annie Mitchem to graduation, leaving this year's squad with some big shoes to fill.
But, Ah Mow-Santos says she isn't looking for the next rising star to rely on. Instead she's hoping to change the culture of the team and the way they attack. So, in her first preseason at the helm, she's starting by changing the way the team practices.
Ah Mow-Santos says typically in the past, she felt like the team would spend anywhere from 30-40 minutes on skill work, then they would more onto executing team drills. Now, she's extending training sessions to three hours. In the early days of preseason training, for the entirety of the 180 minutes of each practice, she's emphasizing fundamentals and individual skills. She believes that approach will translate to a more well-rounded offense when they open play on August 25 against Marquette.
"More ball control I think will equal more hitters hitting the ball, more [will] get set," said Ah Mow-Santos. "Instead of here and there, high ball here, you know [to] Nikki Taylor. So, hopefully we can incorporate more hitters into our offense. That's what I'm looking for. So they only way we can do that... More ball control more passing."
While Ah Mow-Santos is making changing within the walls of gym one in Manoa, the expectations within the Big West Conference haven't changed for U.H. Earlier this week the two time reigning conference champions were once again selected to bring home the title for a third consecutive year.