Despite the loss, this Rainbow Wahine team is worth waiting for
THE crowd started early with the "Let's Go 'Bows!"
They weren't simply being encouraging. Their point was they actually wanted their team to get on the court.
It was more like, "Let's Go! 'Bows!"
We started late, last night. The opening match of the 2007 Rainbow Wahine volleyball season was delayed because the opening match of their ASICS Rainbow Wahine Invitational went long. Oregon State and Colorado State kept going, oblivious to the fact that they were simply the undercard, ignoring the fact that they were supposed to be merely the opening act.
"That was in by a foot, Ref," a man in the stands yelled, commenting on a ball that was out by 2. That point the other way would have really hurried things along.
"I begged them to start at 4:30," Cindy Luis said.
Alas. Instead, the main event would begin more than an hour later than it said on the sheet.
Finally, after 18-16 in Game 5, Oregon State got the upset, and by this time the Stan Sheriff Center was raring to go. The trombone players leaned forward in anticipation. And then, they ran out for the first time.
What a sound.
They'd waited a long, long time for this team.
Maybe you could take that more ways than one. Maybe this is the team they'd been waiting for for a long, long time.
They dared to warm up in shirts that read "2007 NATIONAL CHAMPS IN TRAINING." Which, yes, they'd worn during camp, but this was another statement altogether.
This was saying something.
We've been lulled by excellence, in Hawaii. UH has been so good for so long. The Rainbow Wahine are so good every single year -- and yet they haven't hung a banner since 1987. We know they'll be good -- wake us for the final four.
The shirts did not hit a sour note. Yes. Yes, tell us that. People want to hear that maybe this is the year.
And then the Wahine went out in Game 1 and were terrible.
Terrible. Just terrible.
The Michigan Wolverines -- whose largest home crowd was 2,346 in 1997 -- were not intimidated. It wasn't close.
Game 2. Better, but Hawaii lost again.
And then the team that the crowd had waited so long for finally showed up in Game 3.
And then gutted it out in Game 4.
And then lost.
It was stunning. But strangely, not discouraging. This Hawaii team just needs time to find out who and what it is more than most have at this point (or at least more than most have to at least start 1-0). There's lots of reason for optimism, out there. Aneli Cubi-Ontineru was a revelation, for example. Tara Hittle could become that next marquee player. There are pieces.
This season (aren't they all?) will be about coaching and chemistry. Because there are pieces. But it's all about how they play together, and where they line up and roles, and embracing them.
This may yet be the team you've waited so long for. You may have to wait a little longer, that's all.
Don't pack them away just yet. I'd keep wearing those T-shirts.