Practice number one is complete for the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team. The 2019 group looks vastly different from last season. Nine new players joined the team – five of the them are freshmen.
The Rainbows aim to return to the NCAA Tournament for the 27th straight season. They’ll have to do it with only one returning starter from last year – that’s setter/outside hitter Norene Iosia.
Head coach Robyn Ah Mow is entering year three at the helm. She liked what she saw at Saturday’s practice compared to first practices in years past.
“This year it’s a lot better,” said Ah Mow. “All the girls that were here from two years ago they already know that at that point that’s where they were at that point and now it’s a lot better. I knew the competition in the gym was going to be a lot different. We got a lot more hitters obviously now, a lot more middles. I think we’re on a good path. Imma knock on wood after this interview, but the level of volleyball play is no where close to the first two year I got here.”
Along with the five incoming freshmen, the Wahine have welcomed four transfers, who are all PAC-12. Three of the transfers hail from the University of Oregon. Junior libero Kyra Hanawahine is a Kamehameha-Kapalama graduate, both she and 6’2 junior outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen arrived for spring practice earlier this year.
The third in the contingent from Eugene, Oregon is junior Brooke Van Sickle. The outside hitter/libero’s father, Gary, played for the Rainbow Warriors volleyball team from 1988-90. Now, Van Sickle is part of a trio of Ducks-turned-Rainbows.
“This was not planned, not at all,” explained Van Sickle. “Everyone is like, oh did you guys plan this? No. We were actually roommates back at Oregon. I remember when we came and played (last season) me and Jolie were sitting on the beach and having a conversation under this palm tree. And she’s like hey dude it’d be so cool to come to school here. And we were like yeah it would be so cool. It was just a dream. I had no idea I was going to come here. I went in the portal, was talking to people and coach Ang ended up reaching out to me. She was like hey we have a scholarship if you want to come play for us. And I was like oh my god that would be super cool.”
“I feel like they just decided that they finally figured out that Hawaii was the place to be,” chimed in Iosia, the lone returning starter for UH this season. “Yes, Oregon is a great school but our coaching staff is amazing.”
The Wahine start the season with the Rainbow Wahine Invitational on August 30th.