If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team would have been preparing for its final road Big West conference, a two-game set at UC Santa Barbara this weekend.
Instead, the Rainbow Warriors have not played in exactly one month, back when it topped BYU in a five-set thriller at a sold-out Stan Sheriff Center on March 6.
Due to the shortened season, awards were handed out early as well. As such, ‘Bows senior Rado Parapunov was named the conference’s Player of the Year after a stellar start to the season in which he tallied 201 kills in 15 matches for 15-1 UH.
Parapunov was one of seven Rainbow Warriors to be honored by the conference on Monday.
“I just want to thank everybody who has been supportive this year and especially my team,” Parapunov said on Monday. “Those awards couldn’t be possible without the help of my teammates, my coaches and all the support I got from UH.”
Parapunov became the first player in the program to win a conference POY honor since Costas Theochardis was named the MPSF Player of the Year in 2003.
To Hawaii coach Charlie Wade, Parapunov’s accolades for the 2020 season might not stop there.
“He is not only a league player of the year candidate but a national player or the year candidate,” Wade said of the opposite from Sofia, Bulgaria. “His performance this year has really been remarkable”
The 2020 season will forever be an asterisk in the history books, as the Rainbow Warriors never got a chance to avenge their loss in the 2019 national championship game, nor did they get the chance to repeat their Big West title. As disappointing as the team’s fate is, Parapunov knows health is the priority for all.
“We gave everything we had I think this season. Unfortunately it came up short,” he said. “We all think that was the right thing to do, first we got to take care of our health so we can play the sport we love. We missed the chance at repeating the Big West but like I said, health is the most important thing”