Now that the University of Hawaii’s football schedule has blown up in front of us this week, you have to wonder if that ticking sound in the background is coming from Rainbow Wahine volleyball.
At least football had a schedule, a full, robust 13-game listing, at one point. Though now it is down to nine games at last check thanks to Fordham’s announced exit on Monday and being sacked by the Pac-12 for three contests (Arizona, UCLA and Oregon) on Friday.
As of Saturday the Rainbow Wahine, due to lengthening COVID-19 uncertainty, still hadn’t posted a schedule. That wasn’t much of a concern early on because some volleyball deals can tend to get done late in the best of times, which these certainly aren’t.
Six weeks ago UH said with more hope than certainty that the schedule was “75%” complete and due to be finalized “in the next few weeks.” But, then COVID-19 flared up again and with each passing week on the calendar and every virus spike here and where the Rainbow Wahine’s opponents come from, the continued absence of a schedule has become more ominous.
If, by some near-miracle, there happens to be some semblance of a schedule to be played, it might look a whole lot different from what we are used to.
As football has shown, schools are tearing up fall scheduling contracts now and not hurrying to sign new ones. Schools in at least two major conferences have declared that they’ll play conference-only competition in the fall sports (football, volleyball and soccer). A couple of others are holding off on fall sports altogether.
Pac-12 teams have been a regular and popular feature on the Rainbow Wahine schedule and, now, they are out of the picture and we wait to see what the Big West will do.
And if football scheduling deals, which are worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, are getting scuttled left and right, then volleyball contracts are even easier to rip up.
The Stan Sheriff Center is one of the few places in the nation where volleyball is considered a major sport and an actual revenue-producing attraction. As such, when health and austerity issues emerge the way they have this year, volleyball is an easy candidate for the curtailing of matches and cancellation of road trips.
Texas A&M was expected to be the Rainbow Wahine’s early marquee opponent in a season-opening four-team tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center beginning Aug. 29. The field was to include Pepperdine and Portland State, according to the schools. That was the plan, anyway, though only Texas A&M has, so far, dared to post it. No doubt with fingers crossed.
For the Rainbow Wahine, coming off a 26-4 season, the Aggies, who were 23-8 in 2019 and reached the Sweet 16, figured to be a good early, crowd-pleasing test. If there was a crowd allowed, that is.
The Aggies return 11 letterwinners, including All-America Camille Conner and All-SEC freshman team picks Lauren Davis and Treyaunna Rush.
UH and Texas A&M last met in 2015, when the Rainbow Wahine swept the Aggies in the second round of the NCAA tournament in College Station, Texas.
But given the events of this week, when they might meet again is quickly becoming anybody’s guess.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820.
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