The University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team held its first day of training camp ahead of the 2021 season on Monday in advance of its season opener against Fairfield on Aug. 27.
Returning to the court has been a long time coming for the Rainbow Wahine, who haven’t played in an official game since the 2019 NCAA tournament. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 women’s volleyball NCAA tournament, the vast majority of Division I teams held a season this past spring. The only two conferences to not play this spring were the Ivy League and Big West, the latter of which UH is a member.
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“They were committed from fall to spring and it’s the same thing you gotta relay to those girls. It’s what you want out of it, how bad did you miss playing volleyball last year? It’s how bad you want it, and they came in and showed it this morning so yeah, props to them,” Hawaii head coach Robyn Ah Mow said.
The Rainbow Wahine have also dealt with recent changes to team personnel. Lead assistant Angelica Ljungqvist departed the university in July. Also in July, starting outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen announced she would not be playing in 2021 as she continues to deal with an injury.
Despite the early departures of Rasmussen and Hanna Hellvig, the ‘Bows return a handful of key contributors from the team that went 26-4 in 2019, including outside hitter/libero Brooke Van Sickle and middle blockers Amber Igiede and Skyler Williams.
“I think everyone’s just super excited. We missed out last season because the Big West (women’s indoor volleyball season) got canceled,” Van Sickle said. “We obviously watched the national championship and everything while we were just sitting at home, it definitely put fuel to the fire. We’re very much ready to go at it this season and definitely take home a Big West championship and hopefully make it to Omaha, so very excited. It’s long overdue, but here we are.”
“Stepping in the gym today, usually double days are pretty stressful. It’s pretty stressful, not gonna lie, but today, it was so stress-free, coach Robyn made it so exciting because I think she knows we had a year off and we just wanna have fun, we just wanna get at it,” Igiede added. “It’s hungry in the gym, it’s competitive in the gym, and yeah, it was so rewarding I think.
The team will also have competition for the vacant starting setter position as freshman Kate Lang and Alabama graduate transfer Mylana Byrd vie for the spot after Norene Iosia and Bailey Choy both graduated in 2019.
Ah Mow heads into her fourth official season at the helm, hoping to continue an NCAA tournament streak that dates back to 1993.
The 2021 season for UH kicks off with the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic, with the ‘Bows taking on Fairfield, Marquette and Texas A&M in consecutive days.