UH men’s volleyball receives hero’s welcome upon return to Manoa

Sports

After a long day of travel following the team’s win in the 2021 national championship match, there was no time to rest for the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team upon its arrival back to Manoa.

Head coach Charlie Wade arrived in Honolulu with the NCAA trophy following a connecting flight from Dallas, while the rest of the team returned to campus after a flight from Atlanta, just in time for its Sunday drive-by celebration on the UH-Manoa campus.

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Hundreds of cars passed by on Sunday to welcome and congratulate the Rainbow Warriors.

“There will be time for sleep at another time but just thought it was really important to come out and connect with the fans,” Hawaii head coach Charlie Wade said. “A big part of our program.”

For the members of the 2021 Hawaii national title team, it was its first and last opportunity to interact with its fans on campus, albeit in a socially distanced manner. Cars would honk by while players would wave and thank fans for their support. More appearances for the team are anticipated in the coming week.

“You hear that right there? You’re not gonna get that anywhere else,” setter Gage Worlsey said, referencing the honks and cheers. “A reminder and a blessing to say the least and a good send-off for sure.”

“This is a dream come true. I think this is gonna be, if not one of, it’s going to be the best moment of my life. It’s gonna live in my head forever and ever. I’m really excited to tell my family, my children, my grandchildren, I’m gonna keep that story going for the rest of my life,” outside hitter Colton Cowell added.

The team hasn’t had an opportunity to decompress since winning it all in Columbus, Ohio, but just like the season itself, members of the ‘Bows wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

“When you see this many people in support, it invigorates us,” Cowell said. “The support that these people give us, the energy that they provide for us, it’s really special. This was really easy to get excited about.”

Life will return to normal soon for the team, who will go their separate ways in the coming days. Star player Rado Parapunov will depart for his native Bulgaria during the week as he prepares to compete for the national team. Meanwhile, other departing seniors are set to graduate from the university on Saturday.

“My Mom was like, ‘You finished your schoolwork, right Gage?’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to be honest with you, Mom.’ I had a chance to finish it before the national championship and the semis. I didn’t finish it, so I’m focusing on that,” Worsley said. “Luckily, my teachers allowed me an extension so if you’re watching, if you’re listening, thank you very much for that. I still have some work to do. Some due tonight, some due in the next two days here.”

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