"The fans are in for great volleyball all six matches," said Rainbow coach Mike Wilton. "Laval has a tradition of being one of the top teams and we're pretty familiar with the other two guys."
Familiarity might breed contempt, at least in the case of Hawaii's opponent on Saturday. The sound of Tom Stillwell's dink hitting the Pauley Pavilion floor, giving UCLA its 16th NCAA title last May in a victory over Hawaii, still echoes in the ears of the returning Rainbow players.
"It was a very dissatisfying loss," UH blocker Sivan Leoni said. "I don't really want to talk about it, don't want to look back. We want to focus on this year and the new season.
"Beating UCLA is like beating any other team, except it means more to the crowd. It's very satisfying when we can satisfy them."
Last year in this event, the Rainbows snapped a 10-match losing skid to the Bruins in a five-set thriller that foreshadowed the national final. The Rainbows also picked up a victory in the only MPSF meeting of the season, but UCLA still leads the series with Hawaii, 28-7.
"For young people, it's natural to think about the last match, particularly the team that came up on the short end," said Wilton. "There's some players who remain but it's a different time, a different place, a different emphasis right now.
"This week is going to be a real good challenge for us. Laval is good. Penn State is going to be a year better. And UCLA is always good."
The biggest challenge may be for Laval, which is dealing with a 60-degree differential in the weather between Quebec and Honolulu.
"Their coach said they tried to prepare for this by practicing in full sweats in a heated gym," said Wilton. "I had to tell them that we're playing in an air-conditioned arena."
What Outrigger Hotels Invitational
Where Special Events Arena
Tomorrow UCLA vs. Penn State, 6 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Laval (Canada), 8 p.m.
Friday UCLA vs. Laval, 6 p.m.; Hawaii vs. Penn State, 8 p.m.
Saturday Penn State vs. Laval, 6 p.m.; Hawaii vs. UCLA, 8 p.m.
Broadcasts All matches live on KFVE except Laval-Penn State. Hawaii vs. UCLA match only on KCCN (1420-AM)