HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The eyes of the volleyball world will be fixated on the Stan Sheriff Center Friday night as the No. 3 ranked Rainbow Warrior volleyball team looks to defend their home court against the No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins.
With bragging rights on the line, Hawaii (6-0) is looking to keep its undefeated streak alive against a fellow unbeaten team in UCLA (7-0). But even though this match looks to be the stiffest test the Warriors have faced this season, head coach Charlie Wade is looking for his team to embrace the atmosphere behind this rivalry and have enjoy themselves.
"Yeah, I think it'll be a lot of fun," Wade said. "Two really talented teams and play some high-level volleyball, so if you're a volleyball fan or just a fan of competitive athletics, I think it's going to be a fun environment to be apart of."
The rivalry between UCLA and Hawaii is a storied one, but when outside hitter Stijn van Tilburg came to Manoa as a freshman, he didn't know much about it.
That was until he experienced playing the Bruins firsthand.
"Overtime, after we lost to them in my freshman year, (the disdain) started growing more and more," he said. "And I think this is the year that we beat them at home."
Hawaii and UCLA have met 92 times, with the Bruins holding a 63-29 advantage. The Warriors swept the series last year in Los Angeles, both in four sets, including the finale in which the Warriors pulled out an epic 41-39 first set win. In recent years, UH has had the upper hand in the series, holding a 9-4 advantage since 2013.
Looking to use the Stan Sheriff Center as an advantage against UCLA, Wade hopes that people turn out to support his team.
"It would be great to have huge crowd like that, and it absolutely matters," Wade said. "You can feel it on the court and guys get pumped up to defend their home court and represent their state.
The Warriors have had a longer layoff in between games than usual as they didn't play this past weekend. But van Tilburg doesn't think the layoff will matter once the first ball is served.
"Everybody has fresh legs, everybody is super excited to play," he said.
Hawaii won't have to wait too much longer to get their hands on the Bruins as they take on UCLA this Friday night at home in the first of a two-match series this weekend. First serve is set for 7 p.m. HT. on Friday and first serve for Sunday's showdown against the bruins takes place at 5 p.m. HT.