The rivalry between Hawai’i and Long Beach State is competitive even when it comes to a conference preseason poll.
The Rainbow Warriors and the Beach each received three first-place votes to finish tied atop the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll that the conference released on Monday.
The two programs have won the last three NCAA championships. Long Beach State beat Hawai’i in the 2019 NCAA Tournament finals to repeat as national champions, while Hawai’i in 2021 won its first NCAA title in 19 years.
The Rainbows Warriors will have to replace multiple All-American starters from last season’s championship squad that went undefeated during the regular season, including two home wins against Long Beach State. Hawai’i, though, returns setter Jakob Thelle who was a finalist for the 2021 Lloy Ball Award and was selected as a 2022 Preseason All-American.
Long Beach State ended last season reaching the Big West Tournament semifinals and at No. 8 in both the national coaches poll and national media poll. The Beach also had two players – libero Mason Briggs and outside attacker Spencer Olivier – named Preseason All-Americans.
No other team besides Hawai’i and Long Beach State received a first-place vote in the preseason poll.
UC San Diego finished in third place with 19 points – two fewer points than Hawai’i and Long Beach State.
The Big West season will begin in February and conclude with the six-team conference tournament in April. The winner of the Big West Tournament will receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
2022 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
T-1. Hawai’i – 21 (3) points
T-1. Long Beach State – 21 (3) points
3. UC San Diego – 19 points
T-4. UC Irvine – 11 points
T-4. UC Santa Barbara – 11 points
6. CSUN – 7 points