HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Wahine beach volleyball team is back in Manoa this weekend for their final set of home matches, also marking the final home series for a pair of BeachBow seniors.
“Senior night is very special, unfortunately it’s going to be a little bit different this year because of Covid, so that’s a bummer.” Head coach Anjelica Ljunqvist told reporters. “We hope to really give them the send off that they deserve.”
Pani Napoleon and Harlee Kekauoha are set to play in their final dual matches in Manoa as Cal Poly comes to town for a three-match series this weekend.
Napoleon has been with the program for the last four years...becoming a consistent player for the BeachBows, racking up accolades, but more importantly life lessons.
“I so much appreciate everything about UH and what it had to offer me, I definitely have learned that it is a privilege to be a student-athlete and before coming to UH, this was probably the only school I wanted to play volleyball at.” Napoleon said. “I have no doubt I’m going to leave with a smile on my face and know that I made somewhat of a difference to this program and I’ve enjoyed every year that I’ve been here, so I’m also excited in that kind of way too.”
A difference maker is an understatement, along with being named the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2019, the California native ranks sixth all time in win percentage — Napoleon has an overall record of 45-14.
On the other hand, Kekauoha’s time in Manoa was short, but she quickly became a standout player on the sand, currently an undefeated 4 and oh with her partner Kylin Loker.
The senior might have been raised in California, but her roots are deeply tied to the 808. Her dad grew up on the big island and her mom’s side of the family is from Hauula.
The decision to transfer from UC Irvine to UH was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
“Growing up in California and watching Hawaii come to play all of the schools over here like USC and Long Beach State, in the back of my head I always wanted to come to Hawaii.” Kekauoha said. “So not being able to do it indoor-wise, I think during that time playing at (UC) Irvine, knowing that I had the opportunity to play beach volleyball to extend my eligibility, that was always in the back of my mind.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, UH and the Mustangs will meet for the second time this season, Cal Poly getting the Best of the bows the first time around in a 3-2 match in California — a strange feeling for the BeachBows as the 2021 season feels like it’s flying by.
“Yeah, It’s a strange year, like everyone knows everything has been strange this year.” Coach Ljungqvist said. “A short and intense season, we were able to get these two weekends to play at home, which we are grateful for.”
The ‘Bows and the Mustangs meet this weekend in a three-match series — game one set for Friday at 7:00 p.m. Hawaii time.