Hawaii junior hitter Nikki Taylor was named the Big West’s Player of the Week in volleyball on Monday after helping the Rainbow Wahine open the season with three victories.
The Kaiser High product led all players with 52 kills, including a career-high 25 on Saturday, en route to Most Outstanding Player honors in the Chevron Invitational. Taylor also had a total of 15 blocks and 27 digs in the wins over Idaho, Wichita State and Oregon State.
Also Monday, helped by its first 3-0 start since 2012, Hawaii moved up a spot to No. 17 in the AVCA Coaches Top 25, the first poll of the regular season.
The Rainbow Wahine were preseason No. 18, the lowest ranking ever in the program’s history prior to the start of play. The poll began in 1982 and Hawaii has been ranked in 469 of the 480 weeks, third most and behind Nebraska and Stanford, the only programs to be ranked every week.
Hawaii hosts the Hawaiian Airlines Classic Friday through Sunday. In the field are No. 25 UCLA, American and Iowa.
The Bruins (1-1) dropped five spots from their preseason ranking after being swept by Loyola Marymount over the weekend.
The top five remained the same, led by No. 1 Penn State (3-0) with 54 first-place votes. The Nittany Lions are followed by Stanford (2-0, 8 votes), Texas (3-0, 1), Florida (2-0) and Nebraska (3-0, 1).
Making the biggest move was USC (3-0), jump from 22nd to No. 8 after wins over then-No. 7 North Carolina and then-No. 11 BYU.
Two of Hawaii’s opponents over the weekend continued to receive votes: Wichita State (12) and Oregon State. Long Beach State (2-1) remained just outside the poll with 79 votes, leaving the 49ers again at 26th.