'They've been through it': how Ah Mow-Santos, Ljungqvist change the dynamic of coaching the Rainbow Wahine

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's no doubt, Robyn Ah Mow-Santos brings a different energy to fall camp than Dave Shoji did as head coach. Ah Mow-Santos will be the first to admit, where Shoji was often patient, the former all-American setter is intense. She has a no excuses approach, that was evident from the very first day of camp when she told all of her players that hadn't passed her physical fitness test that they could not practice.

But, while her style may take some adjusting to for the Rainbow Wahine who never experienced her as an assistant coach under Shoji (from 2011-2015) she does share a bond with her players as a former Wahine herself.

During Ah Mow-Santos' time at U.H. she was selected twice as an AVCA first-team all-American. Her now assistant coach, Angelica Ljungqvist, was her teammate at Hawaii in the early 1990's, and was the Rainbow Wahine's first ever four time all-American selection. Ljungqvist was also selected as the National Player of the Year in her final season at U.H. and is to this day considered one of the most decorated Rainbow Wahine in team history. Together the two led the Hawaii to an NCAA National Championship title game in 1996.

Now, learning from two of the most accomplished Rainbow Wahine the program has ever changed the dynamics in gym one for many of Hawaii's players.

"It's different," said middle hitter, Emily Maglio. "They can relate so easily. They've been through it. They're going to keep it tough. They don't let anything slide and they're going to hold you to the high standard that they had when they were playing here."

Ah Mow-Santos and Ljungqvist have also reverted other components of practice to mirror their time playing in Manoa. Fall camp is now being held in gym one, as opposed to the air-conditioned, comfortable confines of the Stan Sheriff Center where Shoji's held preseason practices in recent years.

"It started here, it's going to end here," Ah Mow-Santos said smiling when discussing the change in scenery. "This is where me and Angelica... we all started here. We dripped sweat here. So, I'm cool with gym one. We don't need the Stan Sheriff center until two days before the game."

"They've got to feel it," she added laughing. "They got to feel what hard work is. That's right here. Not in an air-conditioned gym."

But, Ah Mow-Santos isn't just holding her team accountable to work hard - she's pushing herself as a coach as well.

She says she hardly slept the night before the team opened camp last week. When the Big West Conference preseason poll was released on the same day as the first practice of preseason training, she hadn't even seen the results heading into the team's workout because she was preoccupied prepping for practice.

But, with the stress and hard work, also comes a sense of fulfillment and nostalgia for both of the Rainbow Wahine now serving on U.H.'s coaching staff.

"I get a little bit of goosebumps," said Ljungqvist when discussing her return to Manoa as an assistant coach. "This is what I've been looking forward to. We're all so excited to be here. It's great to be back in gym one. Spent a lot of hours in there. Sweat a lot in there. So it's great to be back."

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