With the exception of the three big names in men’s collegiate volleyball, Long Beach State, BYU and UCLA, the no team was more deserving of a spot in the NCAA Tournament than the Rainbow Warrior volleyball team.
With a 19-7 overall record, Hawaii ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule in the country and was the only team in the country to beat Long Beach State this season.
On top of that, the Warriors also had a win over UCLA and two wins over UC Irvine, the latter of which earned a spot in the tournament over the ‘Bows with no explanation at all. In fact, the NCAA released its final rankings on the season before the tournament begins and had Hawaii ranked No. 4 in the country behind only LBSU, BYU and UCLA.
UC Irvine ranked No. 5.
New #AVCA DI-II Coaches Poll!— AVCA (@AVCAVolleyball) April 23, 2018
1. Long Beach State (25)
5. UC Irvine
6. Ohio State
11. Ball State
12. UC Santa Barbara
13. Concordia Irvine
14. Grand Canyon
15. Fort Waynehttps://t.co/eE3EdqZmr2
The outrage from the fanbase is understandable as the ‘Bows would’ve given any team in the tournament a run for their money. After all, Hawaii made it to the Big West Conference tournament final just a week ago after dismantling the Anteaters in four sets before losing to LBSU.
Even former Rainbow Wahine head coach Dave Shoji had a few thoughts regarding the NCAA's decision to leave Hawaii out of the tournament:
NCAA selection biased against Hawaii. IMO, its financial, Irvine drives to UCLA!— Dave Shoji (@DaveShoji) April 22, 2018
On the bright side, the Warriors will return even stronger next season even without the services of starting libero Larry Tuileta. The likes of Stijn van Tilburg, Rado Parapunov, Patrick Gasman, Dalton Solbrig and Cole Worsley each have at least one year of eligibility left to play.
And that’s not even talking about current-sophomore and fan favorite Austin Matautia and all-conference freshman selection Gage Worsley, who will look to expand his role on the team next season.
The Warriors were snubbed from an at-large bid this season, but this will only add fuel to the fire when next spring comes around.
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