HONOLULU (KHON2) — The University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team secured the number one seed in the NCAA tournament this week.
COVID-19 and a lack of fans in the stands put a damper on their success this season.
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The ‘Bows went 15-1 this season but pandemic rules preventing live crowds from watching them here at Stan Sheriff Center has made it challenging for fans.
It’s been a stellar year for UH men’s volleyball.
Normally fans would have been cheering them from the stands all season. Instead, this year they played to empty seats.
Spectrum Sports Commentator Ryan Kalei Tsuji said the team has had to deal with a myriad changes this season.
“It is a completely different environment when there’s no one of the stands, compared to of course, when there’s 10,300, screaming fans,” Tsuji explained. “So they’ve had to adjust and learn how to become motivated within themselves and adapt to their different surrounding.”
Murphy’s Bar & Grill owner Don Murphy said he’s noticed dip in interest when the games air at his bar compared to last year.
“We’ve been showing the games,” Murphy said. “The crowds have been okay. A little bit light but I think for the semifinals it should be pretty good.”
UH men’s volleyball fan Dara Young has been court-side at almost every game since 2010.
“It’s been very different,” Young said. “We all went to the last game on March 6 of last year, and we remember that like yesterday. We were all court-side and we practically jumped onto the court when they beat BYU, so that was glorious.”
She hasn’t watched a single match in person this year and said watching the games on TV isn’t the same
“It’s been very difficult not being there,” she said. “It’s so kind of not as much as in your face, and I wish it was because this is a pinnacle of success in men’s collegiate volleyball. They should be recognized for it.”
A limited number of fans will be allowed inside Covelli Center for the NCAA tournament.
“I think that a lot of people would have loved to be here after the support we saw in 2019,” Tsuji said. “With how many Hawaii fans showed up at long beach to cheer that team on for that national title run. I think just as many would have been here if they were given the opportunity. “
Bows face UC Santa Barbara in the semis, May 6.