A difficult six-week conference stretch and playing host to its annual Outrigger Invitational highlights the 2012 Hawai’i regular season schedule that the team released Monday.
Hawai’i finished last season in fifth place in the MPSF and lost in the first round of the conference tournament. The Warriors return four starters for the upcoming season and also have incoming freshman outside attacker JP Marks, who played for the Germany Junior and Youth National teams.
Check out the five things to take away from Hawai’i’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. Mid-season gantlet
The Warriors for a six-week stretch will have 10 consecutive conference matches against teams that finished last season in the top 10 of the national rankings. Hawai’i from Feb. 10 to March 7 will have two-match home series against UC Irvine, UCLA and BYU and will travel for two-match series with USC and Stanford. USC, BYU, Stanford and UC Irvine each ended last season in the top four of the MPSF standings, while UCLA finished in eighth place but returns a majority of its starters. Hawai’i last season went a combined 3-9 against these four teams, including losing a road match to UC Irvine in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. The top four teams in the MPSF each season receive a home match in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The Warriors have finished in the top four of the MPSF once since 2006.
2. Outrigger Invitational
The Outrigger Invitational will have a different look this season. Hawai’i’s annual four-team non-conference tournament at the beginning of the season will include two new teams to the tournament: Lewis and Springfield. Lewis, which finished last season No. 13 in the national rankings, will make its first appearance in the since 2004. In addition, Springfield will compete in its first Outrigger Invitational as it represents the East Coast in place of Penn State. The Nittany Lions had competed at every Outrigger Invitational since 1996. However, they were unable to attend this year’s tournament because of their school’s requirements on the amount of class days student-athletes can miss per semester because of road matches. Unlike Lewis and Springfield, UCLA will make its second consecutive appearance at the Outrigger Invitational and returns as the defending tournament championships. In addition, the UCLA and Hawai’i match to conclude the Outrigger Invitational on Jan. 14 will be nationally televised on Fox College Sports.
3. Soft start to MPSF
The lightest portion of the Warriors’ conference schedule will be at the beginning of the season. Hawai’i will play its first six MPSF matches against UC San Diego, Pepperdine and Pacific — all teams that did not reach the conference tournament last season. The Warriors last season were a combined 5-1 against these three teams with UC San Diego getting the only victory. In addition, Hawai’i’s season-opener against UC San Diego will be the second time in the last 10 years that the Warriors have opened their season with a conference match. In previous season, Hawai’i has opened its season with its Outrigger Invitational.
4. Wilton returns to Hawai’i
The winningest coach in Hawai’i program-history will return to Honolulu in 2012 to coach against the Warriors. BYU and its new assistant coach Mike Wilton will travel for a two-match series against Hawai’i on March 16-17. Wilton won more than 300 matches in 17 seasons at Hawai’i before retiring in 2009. Wilton also led the Warriors to the 2002 NCAA championship. However, the school had to vacate its only national championship in program history because of NCAA rule violations. Wilton since leaving Hawai’i has served as an assistant coach for the BYU women’s volleyball team.
5. Grand Canyon and Nittaidai
Hawai’i will conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule with a two-match series against Grand Canyon and two exhibition matches against Nittaidai. This will be the first meeting between Hawai’i and Grand Canyon. The Antelopes enter their fourth season of existence and ended 2011 in last place in the MIVA. In addition, Grand Canyon has never defeated a MPSF team. Nittaidai is a Japanese university and will travel to Hawai’i for the first time in its program history. The Warriors are the only Division I-II men’s volleyball team this season to schedule exhibition matches against a foreign college in the middle of their regular season.
Hawai’i 2012 regular season schedule
7 p.m. Jan. 5 vs. UC San Diego*
7 p.m. Jan. 6 vs. UC San Diego*
7 p.m. Jan. 12 vs. Springfield
7 p.m. Jan. 13 vs. Lewis
7 p.m. Jan. 14 vs. UCLA
5 p.m. Jan. 20 at Pepperdine*
5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Pepperdine*
7 p.m. Jan. 27 vs. Grand Canyon
7 p.m. Jan. 28 vs. Grand Canyon
9 p.m. Feb. 3 at Pacific*
9 p.m. Feb. 4 at Pacific*
7 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. UC Irvine*
5 p.m. Feb. 12 vs. UC Irvine*
7 p.m. Feb. 17 vs. UCLA*
7 p.m. Feb. 18 vs. UCLA*
7 p.m. Feb. 24 vs. Nittaidai (Exhibition)
7 p.m. Feb. 26 vs. Nittaidai (Exhibition)
5 p.m. March 2 at USC*
5 P.m. March 4 at USC*
5 p.m. March 6 at Stanford*
5 p.m. March 7 at Stanford*
7 p.m. March 16 vs. BYU*
7 p.m. March 17 vs. BYU*
5 p.m. March 23 at Cal State Northridge*
5 p.m. March 24 at Cal State Northridge*
7 p.m. March 30 vs. Long Beach State*
7 p.m. March 31 vs. Long Beach State*
5 p.m. April 6 at UC santa Barbara*
5 p.m. April 7 at UC Santa Barbara*
*Denotes MPSF match
All times HAST