For the first time in 18 years, the AVCA National Player of the Year Award is headed to the islands as University of Hawaii senior opposite hitter Rado Parapunov was selected with the sport’s biggest individual honor on Wednesday.

Parapunov becomes the third player in program history to win AVCA Player of the Year honors and first since Costas Theocharidis in 2003. Theocharidis also won the award in 2001, while Yuval Katz was co-player of the year in 1996.

The Sofia, Bulgaria native led the Big West in kills per game, (4.41) points per game (5.24) and ranked fifth in blocks (0.90), sixth in aces (0.32), seventh in hitting percentage (.340), and 12th in digs (1.56).

Parapunov also earned the Big West Player of the Year award on April 27 and earned the conference’s Player of the Week award five times this season and a record 15 times in his career. The senior has also won three AVCA National Player of the Week awards this season, becoming the first player to ever accomplish that feat.

Parapunov led the Warriors to the Big West regular season title en route to being selected as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championships for the second straight tournament.

The Rainbow Warriors will open play in the semifinal round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against Big West Tournament champion, UC Santa Barbara at 11:00 a.m. HST, which will be streamed on

KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello is in Columbus, Ohio, covering Hawaii’s hopeful run in the NCAA Tournament. Stay with KHON2 Sports on-air and online for continuing coverage.