The NCAA released its first Ratings Percentage Index of the season Monday, and Hawaii — up to No. 8 in the latest coaches volleyball poll — came in at No. 36.
Coach Dave Shoji called it “mind-boggling.”
RPI is the major component used by the NCAA selection committee when seeding the postseason tournament, as well as awarding host duties to the top 16 seeded teams for the first and second rounds.
It appears that, even two months away from Selection Sunday, “it’s a foregone conclusion we don’t host,” Shoji said. “The thing is, ours is not going to get any better, no matter what we do (because of the strength of the Big West schedule). We could win out and we’re still going to drop.
“(The RPI) is not a fair way to find the best teams in the country. It doesn’t review the strength of teams, it reviews the strength of schedules.
“It’s really a joke.”
Florida, which lost to Hawaii (14-1, 4-0 Big West) four weeks ago, hasn’t been hurt by losing another three matches since its visit to the Stan Sheriff Center. The Gators (9-4) are No. 5 in the RPI, behind No. 1 USC (16-0), Texas (13-1), UCLA (11-3) and Nebraska (12-2).
After Florida and UCLA — the only team to defeat the Rainbow Wahine this year — the team with the highest RPI of any UH opponent is Iowa (33). Dragging down Hawaii’s RPI is the Big West: Long Beach State (13-4, 3-1) is at 65, Cal Poly 68, UC Irvine 133, UC Davis 152, UC Santa Barbara 161, UC Riverside 220, CSUN 234 and Cal State Fullerton 273.
About the only thing the AVCA Coaches Top 25 agrees with are the top two teams in the RPI. The Women of Troy and Longhorns are 1-2 in Monday’s poll.
Hawaii moved up two spots in the Top 25, helped by Illinois and Florida both losing twice last week. The Fighting Illini fell six places from No. 7 after losses at Wisconsin and Minnesota, while the Gators dropped from ninth to No. 17 after losing on the road in five to both Missouri and Arkansas.
“We keep moving up because people (ahead) keep losing,” said Shoji, who voted his team No. 9 this week. “I think the coaches’ poll is more accurate as to the strength of teams.
“I’m looking at the poll and thinking we could beat anyone or lose to anyone in the top 30. It’s pretty tough from 8 to 28. They’re all capable of beating each other.”
What matters most to Hawaii this week is the two teams on the schedule and the two starters on the sidelines who were injured on the road last week. The Rainbow Wahine host CSUN (4-12, 3-1) on Friday and Long Beach State (13-4, 3-1) on Sunday; the 49ers dropped from No. 24 in the previous poll to tie for 31st in votes.
Junior setter Tayler Higgins suffered a sprained left ankle in Set 1 of Friday’s sweep at Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore hitter Kalei Greeley went down with a sprained left knee in Set 1 of Saturday’s sweep at UC Riverside.
After seeing the doctor Monday, Greeley has been cleared to practice on Tuesday morning, but Higgins has not been cleared and is questionable for the weekend. Replacing Higgins on Friday and Saturday was sophomore Kendra Koelsch, and coming in for Greeley on Saturday was freshman McKenna Granato.
“Kendra had no problem stepping in and running the team,” Shoji said. “She’s played a lot of minutes and didn’t miss a beat.
“McKenna didn’t have that many swings (nine), but we felt she was ready.”
If Greeley is unable to return this week, Shoji said, junior middle Annie Mitchem likely will have reps as an outside hitter. She would be used more on the right, which would have junior Nikki Taylor moving to the left in two front-row rotations.
Should Higgins also be sidelined, the backup setter could be sophomore libero Savanah Kahakai, but “hopefully it won’t come down to that,” Shoji said.