Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
A day after No. 8/8 UC Irvine released their 2021 non-conference schedule, No. 2/1 Hawai’i released their preliminary schedule. While Hawai’i will likely add more non-conference matches versus Big West schools later on, we know what their ten-match conference schedule will look like as well as their first four non-conference matches will be.
The 2021 campaign will start with a pair of matches at UC Irvine on February 21 and 22, followed by a pair of matches at No. 9/10 UC San Diego.
Their conference slate will start at CSUN on March 11 and 12. Coincidentally, the Rainbow Warriors were in Northridge, getting ready for the 2020 conference season, when the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of now, Hawai’i will have an open weekend before they return to the SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center to host UC San Diego on March 26 and 27. No. 5/7 Long Beach State visits Manoa the weekend following.
The most daunting conference series looks to be at No. 3/3 UC Santa Barbara on April 9 and 10. The Gauchos were picked right behind the Rainbow Warriors in the conference coaches poll released today.
The regular season concludes with a home series with UC Irvine on April 16 and 17, before Hawai’i hosts the Big West tournament on April 22-24. There is a chance that if Hawai’i and UC Irvine add a non-conference match on April 15, the Anteaters and Rainbow Warriors can meet up to seven times in 2021.
Expectations are high for Hawai’i as they return four All-Americans from last year – opposite Rado Parapunov, libero Gage Worsley, outside attacker Colton Cowell, and middle attacker Patrick Gasman. Rado Parapunov was named the 2020 Nicolas Szerzen award (best non-US born player) winner, while Gage Worsley won both the Erik Shoji award (best libero) and Steve Shondell award (best passer) in 2020.