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Wahine volleyball opens at 47 in RPI

Updated: 
October 4, 2017 - 12:05am

It could have been much worse. Eight points away from being much, much worse.

Had Hawaii lost at UC Riverside on Saturday — the Rainbow Wahine were down 2-0 in sets and 17-16 in Set 3 — Monday’s inaugural Ratings Percentage Index number would have been a hope-killing low in regards to an NCAA volleyball tournament at-large bid. As it happened, the Wahine were able to rally in five to pull out the Big West win against the Highlanders.

Monday’s RPI number has Hawaii at 47, a program low, but still much higher than if the Wahine hadn’t defeated the Highlanders, No. 152 in the computer-generated ranking system used to determine strength of schedule. It came as little surprise considering that Hawaii (10-5, 4-0 Big West) is 1-5 in matches against teams currently with a top-50 RPI, the lone victory coming over Baylor (32).

“In years past, we usually started in the top 16 and would always drop because of the Big West,” assistant coach Kaleo Baxter said. “This year we see it as something totally different. We finished 6-5 in the preseason and we’ll be seeing every win boosting our RPI.

“It’s a completely different mind-set than in years past. We’re projected to finish at 45 and projected to lose three conference matches. Bubble team? Win and there’s no question (about the Big West’s automatic berth).”

The question is whether the Wahine can successfully repeat as conference champions. The early test comes this week, as Hawaii hosts UC Santa Barbara (3-14, 2-2) on Friday and Cal Poly (15-2, 5-0) on Saturday. The Gauchos and Mustangs have RPIs of 245 and 28 out of 334 Division I teams.

Of Hawaii’s other nonconference opponents, Utah opened at 14, UCLA 16, San Diego 25, Marquette 41, South Dakota 160, Northern Arizona 216 and Western Carolina 257. Of the other Big West teams, UC Davis was at 120, UC Riverside 152, Cal State Northridge 172, Long Beach State 221 and Cal State Fullerton 276.

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