(12) Rainbow Wahine set to face USC in NCAA tournament

Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji / AP
Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji / AP

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—The No. 12 University of Hawai’i women’s volleyball team (22-5, 15-1 Big West) opens the 2016 NCAA Tournament with a first round match up vs. USC (18-13, 10-10 PAC-12) this Friday at 12:30 p.m. HT. The Rainbow Wahine and Trojans will square off in the Sports Pavilion on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. Host team and No. 2 seeded Minnesota (25-4) will face North Dakota (26-9) at 3:00 p.m. HT.

The Rainbow Wahine earned the Big West Conference’s automatic bid after winning its second-straight and ninth overall BWC title with a 15-1 conference record. It is UH’s 35th overall and 24th-straight NCAA appearance. The Rainbow Wahine finished the season on a 10-match win streak. The ‘Bows also won 17 of their last 18 matches with the only loss coming in a five-set heartbreaker at Long Beach State in the first round of conference action.

Leading the charge for Hawai’i is head coach Dave Shoji, who in his 42nd year at the helm of the UH program, who became just the second NCAA DI women’s volleyball coach to hit the 1,200 win mark. With a sweep over Cal Poly, Shoji joined only Russ Rose as the only coaches to have accomplished the feat. In that same game, UH captured the Big West title outright with one more match to play. On Monday, Shoji was named the Big West Coach of the Year for the sixth time (one in PCAA). Overall, he has been vote conference Coach of the Year 14 times.

Senior opposite Nikki Taylor earned her second consecutive Big West Player of the Year award after leading the team and the league in several categories with career-highs averaging 4.59 kills per set with a .280 hitting percentage; 51 service aces for 0.65 aces per set (NCAA-No. 2), 2.35 digs per set, and 1.15 blocks per set. Taylor, who missed the first three games of the year due to injury, finished the season strong, earned two-straight BWC Player of the Week awards (four overall this season) and her second career AVCA National Player of the Week award in her final week of the regular season.

Joining Taylor on the all-Big West first team was junior libero Savanah Kahakai, junior middle hitter Emily Maglio, senior outside/middle hitter Annie Mitchem, and freshman setter Norene Iosia who was also named to the league’s all-freshman team.

Hawai’i Post-season History:
-35th NCAA Tournament Appearance – 24th consecutive
-Three NCAA Championships (1982, 1983, 1987); One AIAW Championship (1979)
-NCAA Champion Runner-Up (1988, 1996)
-Nine Final Four Appearances
-Overall NCAA Record – 80-31
-Against 2016 NCAA Field This Season – 3-4
-All-time record versus USC (First round opponent) – Hawai’i holds a 22-18 series lead over the Trojans and a 5-4 edge over USC in postseason play. Their last meeting was an epic five set battle in the Honolulu Regional of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. USC held off UH, 19-25, 29-27, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12.

2016 NCAA Tournament
First and Second Rounds
The Sports Pavilion – Minneapolis, Minn.

Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
12:30 p.m. HT – Hawai’i vs. USC
3:00 p.m. HT – Minnesota vs. North Dakota
Television: To be determined
Livestream: TBD
Radio: ESPN 1420 am, UH’s flagship radio station, will be covering the NCAA tournament.
Live audiostream: A live audio stream will be available at http://www.espn1420 am.com
Tickets: All-session tickets will go on sale for the NCAA First and Second Rounds Tuesday. All-session chairback seating is available for $30, while all-session bench seating is available for $20. For more information, visit mygophersports.com or call the Gopher Ticket Office at 612-624-8080 or 1-800 U-GOPHER.
Livestats: TBD
For more information about the championship, log on to www.ncaa.com/volleyball

#HawaiiWVB

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