Sunday, April 10, 2022 | By Tiff Wells
There are senior nights. Then there are senior nights in Hawai`i.
On a busy Saturday evening inside Lower Campus with three sports happening at the same time resulting in two full parking garages, the No. 4 Hawai`i Men’s Volleyball team outlasted No. 5 UC Santa Barbara in an epic, two hour and 56 minute 5-set match. Set scores were 19-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 15-10.
A season-high crowd of 5,982 witnessed two comebacks by the Rainbow Warriors (20-5, 5-3) as they were down in the match one set to none and two sets to one.
A night after putting down 10 kills in the third set, Ryan Wilcox had six of the 19 UCSB kills in set one as the Gauchos won it 25-19. UCSB (16-8, 5-4) outhit UH .500 to .312.
With a struggling Chaz Galloway, Filip Humler was inserted into the UH lineup midway through the second set. A tied set at 19, UH would then score six of the final seven points to even the match at one set a piece.
UCSB led set three 21-17. UH would then tie it for the eighth and final time at 23-23. But the Gauchos would score three of the next four points to win the set and lead the match two sets to one.
With the Gauchos trying to play spoiler on senior night and one set away from their first win against UH since 2016 and their first win in Honolulu since 2013, the crowd got even louder behind the home team. A 10-9 lead turned into a 20-16 advantage for UH as they closed the fourth set to force the winner-take-all fifth.
UCSB led 3-1 early in the fifth as UH would then tie it at five. That would be the only tie of the set. A Keoni Thiim ace electrified the crowd as UH held the lead through the middle portion. The Gauchos got as close as 10-9 before UH closed out the set and the match on a 5-1 run for the senior night victory and their first five-set win of the season. In the fifth set, UH outhit UCSB .588 to .000 and sided out at 80 percent.
For UH, it was their 12th-straight win over UC Santa Barbara, 8th-straight win in Honolulu against UCSB, 23rd-straight regular season home win and 15th-straight regular season Big West Conference home win. More importantly, UH strengthened their RPI, Strength of Schedule and overall resume with the regular season two-match sweep of UCSB.
Beginning the weekend sitting in fourth place in the conference standings, results from around the league moved UH into second, a half game ahead of both UCSB and UCSD.
The Greek connection of Dimitrios Mouchlias and Spyros Chakas combined for 34 of UH’s 64 kills. A career-high 12 kills from Guilherme Voss added to UH’s .387 hitting percentage for the night. Filip Humler was clutch off the bench, hitting .400 with his seven kills. Brett Sheward commanded the backrow with 12 digs.
UCSB was led by Haotian Xia’s 21 kills and six service aces. Ryan Wilcox added 15 kills while Dayne Chalmers chipped in with 13.
Up next for UH is the final regular season roadtrip at UC Irvine (10-13, 3-5). Matches Friday and Saturday at The Bren Events Center with first serve slated for 7 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. HT.
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