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Quick Sets: Hawai’i vs. UCSB Recap

Three big wins on the road for #WarriorBall21 last weekend at then No. 3 UC Santa Barbara and UH is now 7-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big West. The number one team in the country, both in the AVCA Coaches and Off the Block Media Polls, UH now sits atop the Big West Conference and are just one of two undefeated teams left in men’s collegiate volleyball. For the Rainbow Warriors, the mantra this season is #UnfinishedBusiness. In this week three edition of “Quick Sets,” Tiff Wells will take a look at two storylines each week, either within the UH program or from around the nation. Year four of the Big West Conference season for men’s volleyball continues with its top team on a bye.  

By Tiff Wells.

March 15, 2021 – We knew a lot of eyes would be on this opening conference series for Hawai`i, between them and UC Santa Barbara. Number one versus number three. We mentioned last week how this was on paper, arguably the best series of the year in the Big West Conference…and perhaps in the nation. It didn’t start out that great for the Rainbow Warriors, but it sure ended quite well for UH and they also sent a message to the rest of the league that the BWC is now UH’s for the taking.

UCSB played its best set of the series (13 kills with one error, hit .545) in set 1 (won 25-16). It was all Hawai`i after that. Through the final nine sets of this series, Hawai`i would hit no worse than .323 in a set. Setter Jakob Thelle is running the nation’s most efficient offense (UH is hitting .372 on the season). We know Opposite Rado Parapunov would get his kills throughout the series. But the overall serve-receive for UH allowed Thelle to run the middle with Middle Blocker Patrick Gasman taking full advantage.

For the weekend, Gasman had 29 kills on 42 swings, with only three hitting errors. For a couple of rotations in the front row, Gasman stands next to Parapunov. Good luck as a hitter if you’re facing that wall. Gasman added 19 more blocks to his career total (he now stands at 428, 10 shy of tying Dio Dante for third all-time at UH).

UH was tested and pushed in the final set of the series, playing from behind for most of it. They would win it 26-24 to complete a very impressive weekend. Two conference wins and a high-quality non-conference win will look very nice on the resume. UH took the series seriously, starting the same lineup. With six of the final eight matches at home before the conference tournament (which UH hosts), UH has set themselves up quite nicely. Wins are nice, but seeing this team finally play at home next week will be even nicer.