The University of Hawai’i beach volleyball team released its 2021 schedule with the fifth-ranked Rainbow Wahine slated to start the season on March 22. Led by first-year head coach Angelica Ljungqvist, this year’s squad will embark on a schedule that features nearly two dozen regular-season dual matches, including five home dates at the Clarence T.C. Ching Courts.
“Through all the circumstances and the challenges that COVID presents, we’re very happy and grateful to begin our season soon,” Ljungqvist said. “Our ladies and our staff have been working extremely hard to get ready and we can’t wait to get started with competition.”
UH opens its season March 22-23 on the road in Davis, Calif. The BeachBows will play host UC Davis on a back-to-back days as well as Pac-12 squads Stanford and Cal. UH will remain on the road that week for The Challenge, a round-robin tournament hosted by Cal Poly which includes six Big West squads.
UH’s first home events will come on April 2 and 3 when the team faces league rival Long Beach State for a trio of dual matches. Cal Poly arrives in Honolulu the next weekend for dual matches and a pairs tournament, April 9-11.
UH then closes the regular-season in Seattle where they will face Portland as well as Pac-12 squads Washington, Oregon, and Arizona in a series of matches, April 16-18.
For the first year head coach Ljungqvist, taking over the program serves as a return to the outdoor game where the former Rainbow Wahine All-American and Swedish Indoor National Team member was also on the Swedish Beach National Team from 2002-03 and 2007-10 before playing on the FIVB World Tour.
“It’s been very nice for me actually to get my feet out on the sand again. It had been some years, so I really enjoyed it. They’re a great group of girls that we get to work with so it’s been great getting to know them on and off the court. Obviously I wish we could have had done more in the fall. We didn’t get to practice in the fall, but we’re trying to catch up on that right how. So, we’re working hard everyday and seeing progress and that’s all we can ask for right now.”
Hawai’i seeks its fourth league title when it competes at the Big West Championships, April 30-May 1 in Long Beach, Calif. The NCAA Tournament takes place May 7-9, once again in Gulf Shores, Ala. UH is one of only five teams nationally to make an appearance in every NCAA Tournament.
“First of all, the program has such a great tradition. Obviously have been to finals every year since it became in NCAA sport and beach volleyball is a big part of our Hawaiian culture over here,” said Ljungqvist. “Everyone is always playing down at Queen’s Beach and different places around the island and I used to do that back in the day too during our college days. I’m very excited about the development that the sport has taken and the fact that it’s a growing NCAA sport. I think it’s great and I hope we can grow it bigger here and grow a bigger support for our team here in the state of Hawaii, and hoping to make the Ching Complex our home arena and really fill that place up and make it a happening event.”
As it stands, Hawaii’s home matches at the Ching Complex will not be open to fans as the campus remains closed to visitors.
The BeachBows were 7-2 overall and ranked fourth nationally during last year’s COVID-abbreviated 2020 season. UH came in at No. 5 in the AVCA preseason poll released earlier this year.