The Wahine are ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll that will be released tomorrow. It's the first time that Hawaii has been the preseason favorite since 1988, nine months after claiming its fourth, and last, national title.
Stanford, which meets Hawaii Nov. 2 at the Special Events Arena, is ranked No. 2.
"I'm a little surprised we're No. 1," said Wahine coach Dave Shoji, who begins his 22nd year with the program with a record of 590-121. "I don't think anyone likes to be No. 1 in the preseason. Everyone likes to shoot at No. 1.
"I voted for Michigan State. They have five returning starters. It seems logical they would be rated ahead of us, seeing that they beat us last year. And Stanford and Nebraska have legitimate claims, too. I guess our record last year may be the reason people are voting for us."
Hawaii returns five starters from the team that won its first 31 matches and was up, 2-0, in games before losing a final four berth to Michigan State, 3-2. Gone from the roster is captain Jenny Wilton, a right-side hitter; back are two All-Americans in setter Robyn Ah Mow and middle blocker Angelica Ljungquist.
Next week, the Wahine open the season on the road for only the second time in their history, the other being 1975, Shoji's first year. Hawaii travels to Normal, Ill., for the Aug. 23-24 NACWAA Women's Volleyball Classic, featuring defending national champion Nebraska, Florida and host Illinois State.
The Wahine return home for the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, playing host to UCLA, Louisville and Michigan.
Some 5,000 season tickets have been sold for the Special Events Arena where Hawaii set national records for total attendance (145,006) and average attendance (6,042) last season.
Hawaii moves from the Big West to the Western Atheltic Conference this season. The Wahine will compete in the WAC Tournament, Nov. 26-30, in Las Vegas, their first conference tournament appearances since the 1986 Pacific Coast Athletic Association tournament.