University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball’s Nikki Taylor was named Big West Player of the Year, head coach Dave Shoji was named Big West Coach of the Year, and five Rainbow Wahine—Norene Iosia, Savanah Kahakai, Emily Maglio, Annie Mitchem, and Taylor all earned all-Big West first team honors as announced by the conference office on Monday. Iosia also was voted to the conference’s All-Freshman team.
Taylor, a senior from Honolulu, O’ahu, earned her second consecutive Big West Player of the Year award. It is the 25th time that a UH player earned conference Player of the Year honors and the ninth UH player to earn the award at least twice. She also became just the sixth Rainbow Wahine to earn all-conference first team honors all four years of her collegiate career, joining Angelica Ljunquist (1993-95 Big West, 1996 WAC), Lily Kahumoku (1999-’00, ’02-’03), Kim Willoughby (2000-03), Kanoe Kamana’o (2003-06), and Kanani Danielson (2008-11). Taylor became just the 10th player in Big West Conference history to accomplish the feat of earning four first team honors.
Taylor helped to lead the Rainbow Wahine to a near-perfect conference record of 15-1 en route to winning back-to-back Big West titles. She recorded career-highs across the board averaging 4.59 kills per set, .65 service aces per set, 1.15 blocks per set and 5.85 points per set. She led the Big West this season in kills per set (NCAA-No. 11), service aces (NCAA-No. 11), service aces per set (NCAA-No. 2), and points per set (NCAA-No. 5). She currently is No. 12 in UH history with 1,354 career kills and No. 8 with 116 service aces and No. 10 with 3.67 kills per set. For the season, she notched 18 double-digit kill games, including seven with 20+ kills with six double-doubles. Taylor was voted Big West Player of the Week four times this season, bringing her career total to 10 tying only Kanani Danielson as the only other Rainbow Wahine to earn 10 conference Player of the Week awards. Taylor also became just the second Rainbow Wahine to ever be named AVCA National Player of the Week twice in her career joining just Kim Willoughby who garnered the award three times during her standout career.
Leading the Rainbow Wahine to their fourth Big West title in five years (since returning to the league), and ninth overall (including a PCAA title), Shoji earned his sixth Big West Coach of the Year accolade and 14th overall conference Coach of the Year award. With this year’s BWC title, Hawai’i grabbed the conference’s automatic bid to their 35th overall and 24th consecutive NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship. The Rainbow Wahine, who lead the conference and rank in the nation’s top 20 in three statistical categories, enter the postseason riding a 10-match win streak. In the final week of the regular season, Shoji collected his 1,200th career victory, becoming just the second NCAA DI women’s volleyball coach to hit the 1,200 win milestone. Shoji, who is in his 42nd year at the helm of the Rainbow Wahine program, now has a career record of 1,201-203-1. He is right behind Penn State’s Russ Rose who notched his 1,200th career win earlier this season.
This marks Maglio’s second-straight season on the All-Big West first team. She led the league in both hitting percentage at .393 (NCAA-No. 19) and 1.36 blocks per set (NCAA-No. 24). Maglio also posted career-highs in almost all statistical categories with 216 kills, 2.35 kills p/set, 125 total blocks, 12 solo blocks, and 113 block assists, and 53 digs. She was named the Big West’s Defensive Player of the Week twice this year.
For Kahakai, it is her first time earning all-Big West first team honors. Last year she was named to the league’s honorable mention list. Kahakai has been the anchor of the defense all season long. This season she led UH with 380 digs while averaging a career-high and team-high 4.09 digs per match. Kahakai also contributed with 107 assists and 10 service aces. She is just 35 digs away from becoming the 14th member of UH’s 1,000 Career Dig Club.
Iosia has been the orchestrator of the UH offense starting in 24 games this season. She led the ‘Bows with 12 double-doubles and is just two assists shy of reaching 900 assists in her rookie season. She was second on the squad with 30 service aces and third in the Big West averaging .35 aces per set. Iosia was also second on the team with 232 digs (2.70 per set) and she recorded 48 blocks with five solo. She earned three Big West Freshman of the Week awards.
MItchem missed the first nine games of the season due to an injury suffered on the first day of practice. But since her return to the court, the ‘Bows have gone 17-1 overall. Her addition into the lineup has proved to be a key component to UH’s success. She slid over from her customary middle hitter position to play on the leftside, giving much balance to the offense and taking a load off of Taylor on the right. Mitchem recorded 173 kills, averaging 2.88 per set with a hitting percentage of .330. She also was in on 55 blocks (five solo) with 41 digs. She was named Big West Player of the Week on Nov. 7 after helping the ‘Bows sweep both Long Beach State and CSUN to claim first place in the league.
The Rainbow Wahine moved up to No. 12 in this week’s AVCA poll and to No. 23 in this week’s RPI. Hawai’i will be heading to Minneapolis to play USC in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Friday, Dec. 2.