No. 1/1 Hawai’i (4-0, 0-0 Big West) at No. 3/2 UC Santa Barbara (4-01, 0-0), 2 p.m. HST
Watch: BigWest.tv (stream starts at 1:30 p.m. HST)
Quick Sets 3 from ESPNHonolulu’s Tiff Wells
By Tiff Wells
League play is finally here! When UH’s original schedule was announced on February 11th, this series wasn’t supposed to take place until the second week in April. But because of the late start in returning to the gym for CSUN, it was mutually agreed upon by all parties involved to move this week’s CSUN series to April 9th and 10th, and then have UC Santa Barbara be this week. A series between unbeaten No. 1 (Hawai`i, 4-0) and unbeaten No. 3 (UC Santa Barbara, 4-0) in the country? The top two teams in this years Big West Conference Preseason Coaches Poll (UH-unanimous No. 1 pick; UCSB-unanimous No. 2 pick)?
On paper, it arguably is the best series of the year in the BWC…and perhaps in the nation. The Rainbow Warriors were supposed to play in Santa Barbara last season, but alas COVID-19 had other ideas and the season was cancelled prior to conference play. UH hasn’t played UCSB in Santa Barbara since the 2018 season (UH won the two-match series, their first ever road sweep of UCSB where Sophomore Rado Parapunov had 20 kills, a pair of aces and 10 blocks, Freshman Gage Worsley was a serving specialist and had three aces and Patrick Gasman had four kills and four blocks.). The Gauchos are hungry to defeat UH and a number one team; they haven’t beaten UH since April of 2016. Since then, UH has won six straight against UCSB.
The three-match series begins later today. Matches today and tomorrow will count towards the conference record. Saturday’s non-conference match, as well as all non-conference matches against BWC teams will always be interesting. Do you rest the starters and develop the bench? Do you play your normal lineup and try to boost the resume with a high-quality non-conference win? One thing we know for sure: a lot of eyes will be on this match from Rob Gym that will feature numerous All-Americans.
This is such a big series that on Sunday night, Off The Block tweeted this:
We don’t need to wait until Thursday to announce this week’s NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball National Match of the Week
Get ready for the weekend trilogy folks!!! A three-match series possibly between No. 1 & No 2.
Here’s OTB’s take
Hawai’i player to watch: Middle attacker Patrick Gasman has a nation-best 1.54 blocks per game average, including having six blocks in each of the Rainbow Warriors’ last three matches.
UC Santa Barbara player to watch: Middle attacker Keenan Sanders leads the nation with a .644 attack percentage and has committed a combined two errors in the first four matches of the season.
Quick breakdown: The top two offenses in the nation will meet to open the Big West season. The Rainbow Warriors lead the country with a .389 attack percentage and have hit more than .300 in all four of their matches so far this season. Opposite Rado Parapunov also has double-digit kills and more than a .375 attack percentage in every match. UC Santa Barbara is second in the country hitting .361. In addition, opposite Randy DeWeese leads the Big West and is among the national leaders with a 4.21 kills per game average, including having a combined 32 kills in a doubleheader sweep of UC Irvine on Sunday. This will be the opener of a three-match series between UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i with the first two matches counting as conference matches and the finale being a non-conference match.
Thursday’s other matches
No. 4/4 Pepperdine (7-2, 7-2 MPSF) at No. 8/10: UCLA (8-3, 8-3 MPSF), 3 p.m. HST
No. 13 UC San Diego (0-4, 0-4 Big West) at No. 12 UC Irvine (0-4, 0-0 Big West), 2 p.m. HST
Ball State (7-4, 4-3 MIVA at No. 14 Ohio State (5-6, 4-3 MIVA), 2 p.m. HST
USC (1-6, 1-6 MPSF) at Concordia Irvine (2-6, 2-6 MPSF), 5 p.m. HST
Live stats: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/cui/