The Rainbow Wahine have been here before - literally. For the 25th straight year Hawaii volleyball is part of the NCAA tournament field. And, for the fourth time in just eight years they've been sent to Seattle for opening rounds, where they'll face a Big Ten foe that they've gone a perfect 4-0 against in postseason play.
After failing to win a conference title, Hawaii received at at-large bid into this year's tournament during Sunday's selection show. The invite came following a strong finish to their season - UH won nine of their last 10 matches, and six of those victories came in straight sweeps.
Now they're looking to continue that momentum in the postseason.
"Obviously we want to do the best we can given everything," said senior middle hitter, Emily Maglio. "But we're just looking forward to playing Illinois and playing a Big Ten team and that'll be a big test. We want to get by them and face Washington and beat them in their home gym."
With that recent streak of success, Hawaii heads into their match against Illinois with a certain added confidence that's been building throughout the 2017 season.
"I think our team - overall we're playing really good volleyball," Maglio added. "I think that it's definitely important, to be peaking at this point in the season."
"We're playing some really good volleyball right now," assistant coach, Kaleo Baxter said. "We're playing confident volleyball. Maglio has gotten better and better every single match and we like our chances... Everyone's at zero wins and zero losses, and it's about winning six in a row."
But starting off the post season 1-0 will mean getting past a big Illinois team that includes two All-Big Ten selections including a six-foot three-inch middle.
"We know that they're going to push their offense," Baxter said of the Illini. "They're going to push the speed of their offense. We're going to have to use our speed to our advantage. We just expect some long rallies. [It's] something that we're used to - playing scrappy Wahine volleyball. This time it's just in an NCAA tournament setting."
First serve in Friday's match-up will be at 3 p.m. HST. Hawaii fans will be able the watch the game on Spectrum.
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