top wahine volleyball stories and columns
The final week of play not only kept Hawaii's quest for a 19th consecutive conference title -- outright or shared -- from sinking, it also floated the postseason boats of UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge.

Adapt and evolve. It's key to success in many jobs, but perhaps none more crucial than in coaching. When change is the only constant, with new players every season and the sport itself continually being tweaked, it becomes a matter of relate or become irreleva

By "pure coincidence," Hawaii's starting lineup could have heavy local roots when the No. 17 Rainbow Wahine open against Ohio at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday.

The "soft opening" for the Rainbow Wahine marked the end of double-day sessions. Monday not only is a return to school but a return to the single morning practice that kicks off the first game week of the season, coach Dave Shoji's 40th.

Consider the odds of playing volleyball in college. How many of those on the 1,230 teams that competed at July's USAV Girls Junior National Championships will find their way onto a collegiate roster at any level?

Neighbors. Teammates. Classmates. Friends. And, now, Rainbow Wahine. Kendra Koelsch and Gianna Guinasso shared more than a zip code growing up less than a mile apart in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Casey Castillo, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter from Oceanside, Calif., affirmed her oral commitment to play for the Rainbow Wahine next season with a visit to the Stan Sheriff Center for practice. Castillo said she officially will sign during November's early National Letter of Intent period.

In the fall of 2010, a wide-eyed Kalei Adolpho, then a high school senior, told a small group of media members covering Hawaii volleyball that she had committed to play for the Rainbow Wahine … in basketball. But, she said, she had been told she would be able to walk on for volleyball while on a basketball scholarship.

The only thing constant is change. It is particularly true in sports, where every new season brings new changes, from personnel to personalities, from roles to role models.

They lost a lot. Four starters. Four reserves who saw substantial playing time. Still, it didn't make a dent in the respect the Hawaii volleyball program garnered in what many consider a rebuilding year.

Dave Shoji has long been the face of the University of Hawaii women's volleyball program, and now the school is making it official. Shoji's smiling likeness will be featured on T-shirts and volleyballs -- large and small -- commemorating his milestone 40th season that starts Aug. 29 with the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational.

Getting there was the hard part ... for both destinations. Fourth-seeded Hawaii needed some 26 hours to reach Gulf Shores, Ala., site of the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships.

No. 3 Hawaii headed out Tuesday night for Gulf Shores, Ala., with one goal in mind: Bring home its first team championship in sand volleyball.

The No. 3-ranked University of Hawaii sand volleyball team put itself in position for its first team appearance in the national championship by sweeping three dual matches at the Big West Challenge in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Friday.

Hawaii has delivered all season for sand volleyball coach Scott Wong. The Rainbow Wahine are No. 3 nationally and take a 15-3 record into this week's tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif., to end the regular season.

Playing volleyball in the Stan Sheriff Center is an experience like no other. Olivia Magill discovered that last season … and she was playing AGAINST the home team.

Consider it a March Madness bracket challenge, sand volleyball style. And, just as the late Jim Valvano said, "Survive and advance." The top-seeded pair of Kirby Burnham-Sarah Hughes did more than survive in the gold championship bracket on Saturday.

Hawaii middle blocker Jade Vorster will not return next season to play for the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team, Hawaii coach Dave Shoji announced Thursday.

It was as close as it could be between Nos. 2 and 3. A few grains of sand of separation it seemed from the way it ended. Third-ranked Hawaii moving up two spots in Wednesday's AVCA Collegiate Sand Poll came up just short against No. 2 USC, falling to the Women of Troy 3-2 in the last dual match of a triple header at Queen's Beach Sandbox.

No. 5 Hawaii came into Saturday's USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge undefeated at 3-0. Less than an hour later, that perfect record was gone, swept away by No. 1 Pepperdine 5-0 on the sands of the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

It's as much about this week as it is about this season. It's also about two years from now and beyond. The goals of the Hawaii sand volleyball program are both short- and long-term.

Perhaps it wasn't a huge surprise that it would be an all-Hawaii final Saturday at Queen's Beach. After all, it WAS the Rainbow Wahine Invitational sand tournament and the No. 5 SandBows had gone 3-0 in Friday's dual play, topping No. 3 Long Beach State, No. 10 Stanford and unranked Loyola Marymount.

With a 2-1 victory at No. 1 pairs in the final match of the day, Hawaii edged defending national champion Long Beach State 3-2 to finish undefeated Friday, opening the sand volleyball season 3-0.

A new documentary hopes to articulate the impact Patsy T. Mink and Hawaii played in gender equality with "Rise of the Wahine."

Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji sent holiday greetings to Hawaii from halfway around the world Saturday, tweeting that he would return for a 40th season.

Hawaii senior Emily Hartong is a step closer to becoming a two-time first-team All-American after being named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Pacific North Region Team on Tuesday. Freshman teammate Nikki Taylor received honorable mention.

From the moment Hawaii blasted defending NCAA champion Texas on opening night, it has been a volleyball season on the brink — of glory and disappointment — for everybody, it seems.

Seven Hawaii seniors went down swinging with their teammates Saturday, falling to a Brigham Young volleyball team playing at a ridiculously high level in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In a volleyball performance that scared no one but Hawaii, the 11th-seeded Rainbow Wahine found their form late Friday to pull away from Idaho State in their NCAA tournament first-round match. The scores were 25-16, 19-25, 25-12, 25-13, before a Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 7,809.

Until tonight, Hawaii's NCAA tournament has been all about playing in front of the Rainbow Wahine's record-setting and long-suffering volleyball fans, who have only seen their team play at home in the postseason twice since 2003.

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