There's more on the line for the Sand 'Bows this weekend than conference titles and unbroken winning streaks. After watching the Hawaii men's volleyball team lose the Big West and subsequently get snubbed from the Big Dance earlier this month, the Wahine know the only way to guarantee a shot at their long term goal, a national championship, is to protect their home court at Queens Beach this weekend and earn the Big West title.
"We had to use [the men's team] as a little bit of a motivator," said head coach Jeff Hall. "Just addressing it and saying this is real and this is what could happen. We're not trying to draw too much attention to it. What happened to the men was not right. I'll go on record on that it was just unfair for that staff, those kids. But, for us, we just have an opportunity to take care of our own business. If we win this weekend and win out we're good."
The Rainbow Wahine are the top seed in this weekend's tournament. But their path to a third consecutive conference crown could be anything but easy. Hot on their heels is Cal Poly. The Mustangs are currently ranked fourth in the country, one spot behind Hawaii and gave the Sand 'Bows their toughest match of conference play this season. Not far behind the 'Stangs is perennial power Long Beach State. The 49ers head into competition as the sixth ranked team in the nation.
But the Rainbow Wahine say they're confident in their training ahead of postseason play. And, they have the added advantage of playing on their adopted home court at Queen's Beach, which is considered to be one of the toughest beach venues in the college game.
"Queen's is definitely is a brutal beach for anyone who's not used to it," said Rainbow Wahine sophomore, Morgan Martin. "I've never played in sand like that. It's like a little bit deeper. A little more challenging."
"It's comparable to Manahattan Beach, Hermosa Beach," added Hall. "Anybody in the beach volleyball world says that's kind of the deepest sand. So, Queen's Beach has that depth. It's kind of hard to move around. And then the heat index is real.It's just a really hard day if you're not hydrating, staying in the shade as much as possible. And again, we're more used to it than they are."
The Rainbow Wahine will have a bye in tomorrow's first round of action before hitting the sand at noon in Waikiki.
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