HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in nearly four decades, the Rainbow Wahine are starting their season 0-3 after getting swept in their first tournament of the year.
As the team continues to learn to adjust to life in the post-Dave Shoji era, Hawaii's new head Coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos says she learning, too.
And for her, the team's slow start to the season has been full of lessons.
"Patience, patience. It's not going to come easy," said Ah Mow-Santos, when discussing what she learned from the team's first three matches of the year. "It's going to take time, because I'm a new coach, for the girls to get used to a different culture in the gym and a different way of coaching."
While the team is starting off winless after their first weekend in the Stan Sheriff Center for the first time since 1980, Ah Mow-Santos says she's already seen a shift in her team.
After falling to San Diego on Saturday in a sweep, Hawaii was able to force a No. 13 UCLA team to five sets on Sunday in a game that Ah Mow-Santos says felt like a victory.
"I felt like we won. We won in the sense that the girls are moving forward," said Ah Mow-Santos about the match against the Bruins. "They're figuring it out. We got to get down. We got to get going, We got to get playing together."
Part of "figuring it out" included an impromptu Saturday night practice after the team lost to the Toreros in straight sets. There, the team had a long discussion about what wasn't working, and what they needed to do to take a collective step forward.
"I said a lot of things," said Ah Mow-Santos. "But the one thing I tapped on is we've all sacrificed a lot to get to where we're at. Like, I've sacrificed a lot, my parents sacrificed a lot ... so did all of (the team)."
Ah Mow-Santos says she reminded her team what each girl gave up in order to become a Division I volleyball player.
"(They) were in the volleyball gym. If (they) weren't, then they were competing. (They) didn't have normal summers. (They) sacrificed a lot to get to where they're at. There's 18 standing here," she said. There could be 6,000 girls that want this place. There's only 18 here. (They) have to know what that means. That's how you walk into the arena. That's how you walk into practice."
Ah Mow-Santos and a number of her players say it's that conversation that helped the team develop a a new found understanding of each other and their coach ahead of Sunday's match. It's a closeness they hope they can continue to build on.