Men’s volleyball celebrates 50th anniversary

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i men’s volleyball program turns 50 this season and in celebration of the milestone, past and present team members will participate in the annual Alumni Night festivities Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The first of two alumni start at 4:30 p.m., the second at approximately 7 p.m. Nearly 40 former players will either suit up or attend the festivities.

 This season marks the 50th anniversary of UH’s first men’s volleyball team. The 1958-59 Rainbows participated as a club team and featured six players and head coach Jerry Bruhn. One member of the team — Manny Relator — will be on hand Saturday night as that inaugural team will be recognized.

 The ’58-59 Rainbows finished unbeaten in the Armed Services YMCA Class B League championship and took fifth place in the highly regarded Senior Volleyball League, a tournament which featured the top volleyball club programs in the state.

 The men’s volleyball program officially began as an intercollegiate sport in 1979 with current women’s volleyball coach Dave Shoji heading both the men’s and women’s programs. The men’s program has compiled a 496-265 record in 30 varsity seasons and has participated in postseason play 21 times. UH advanced to the NCAA Championship in 1995, ’96 and 2002, the latter of which the Warriors captured the national title before it was later vacated.

 Head coach Mike Wilton has been at the helm of the program for the past 16 seasons and has posted a 307-149 record. He has guided UH to five Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Pacific Division titles, six top five national finishes, and coached 14 All-Americans, including national players of the year Yuval Katz and Costas Theocharidis.

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