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Rainbow Wahine volleyball opens NCAA Tournament run against No. 24 Mississippi State

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Reigning Big West Conference champion Rainbow Wahine volleyball team is in Washington to face a top-25 foe in the Bull Dogs.

It’s not the first time the ‘Bows are in the big dance, the team saying that they’re using those past experiences for their pursuit of a National title.

“We’ve been here before, going to the post season, so this team has that experience.” Assistant coach Kaleo Baxter told reporters.

Hawaii is coming off of a 21-7 regular season and an 18-2 tear of the Big West Conference, en route to back to back Big West Titles and an automatic birth to the tourney.

This marks their 28th consecutive appearance in the big dance, the last time coming in 2019 where they made all the way to Regionals before falling to Nebraska in a three set sweep.

The Big West canceled their season in 2020, so UH was not eligible for the Tourney.

“We have upperclassmen that know what it takes to play at that level.” Coach Baxter said. “Doing everything right you know on and off the court and yeah these girls are definitely ready for the challenge.”

Seven current Wahine were on that 2019 squad, using what they learned in that tournament as an advantage to hopefully snatch that elusive National championship.

“Using that experience, also a learning experience you know, but at this stage in the game, whoever plays confident and you know takes big girl swings, is what we call them, in the moment.” Coach Baxter said. “Those are the teams that are going to survive and advance.”

To add fuel to the fire, UH is coming off of a season finally loss to UC Santa Barbara — the only conference team Hawaii has not been able to best this year.

“Right after the Santa Barbara game happened, the ball dropped.” Senior Brooke Van Sickle said. “I mean it was unfortunate that we lost, but we already knew like okay next game now, learn from what happened, move on from it, grow as a team, so you were very excited.”

First serve is set for 2:00 p.m. Hawaii time on ESPN +.

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