UH men’s volleyball star Rado Parapunov bids Aloha to the islands

Sports

Hawaii’s Rado Parapunov celebrates the team’s win over UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals of the NCAA men’s college volleyball tournament Thursday, May 6, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

University of Hawaii volleyball senior Rado Parapunov spent his final day on the islands making the rounds with the rest of the national championship men’s volleyball team.

The star opposite hitter, who leaves for his native Bulgaria on Wednesday night in preparation for national team play, was honored along with the rest of the team by local figures such as Gov. David Ige, Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi and democratic U.S. Rep. and former UH men’s volleyball player Kai Kahele.

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“I’m thankful first of all that we have this government that supports us and the community,” Parapunov said on Wednesday. “We are doing everything we can for them and I’m thankful we got to share it with them in some way in this pandemic.”

Parapunov, along with other prominent seniors in Colton Cowell and Patrick Gasman, put his pro career on hold in pursuit of a national title in 2021. The Rainbow Warriors did exactly what they set out to do in the 2021 season, sweeping BYU in the national title match on May 8.

“Kind of realizing, we can’t wrap our minds around it. I mean, we’re national champions,” Parapunov said. “That goal has been in our minds for years and now finally my last game for University of Hawaii was a national championship and we won. We’ve got a lot of messages from a lot of people and I’m thankful for their support. I didn’t realize I had that much support.

“Seeing that Hawaiian flag in (SimpliFi Arena at) the Stan (Sheriff Center) being raised and everything and then singing Hawaii Pono’i everywhere we go, it just feels amazing and I think that gave us the extra five percent that we needed just to be at our best.

“It’s just amazing that people appreciate what we’ve done and they have to realize it’s for them. I’ve said this before — there’s many people down the list that we do it for and then it’s us, I think we’re the last but first utmost is the community. They gave us so much energy when we needed it and it’s just amazing.”

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