Monday, November 7, 2022
By: Tiff Wells
Calendar page turned to November last week Tuesday and UH saw themselves in a familiar spot…atop the conference standings. With an RPI at 58 and three of the final eight regular season matches against Top 100 RPI teams, Hawai`i more than likely won’t see their RPI drop low enough to merit at-large bid consideration should they not get the automatic bid from the Big West Conference. Win the league’s automatic bid and this whole conversation becomes a moot point. UH received two of the four weekly BWC awards as Amber Igiede was named Offensive Player of the Week and Caylen Alexander for a fifth time, took home Freshman of the Week honors.
Last Friday began the penultimate homestand for league-leading Hawai`i as they welcomed in both Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. Even with the Bows atop the Big West Conference, arguably the hottest team in the BWC was Long Beach. The Beach brought a conference best nine-match winning streak to the island and they had not lost in over a month. Coincidently, their last loss came against Hawai`i on October 1st. And anytime a Long Beach State volleyball team comes for a match, the Hawai`i fanbase shows up.
The largest lead of the opening set was just three points, held by Long Beach State and last at 16-13. Nearly all statistical categories were in favor of The Beach and Igiede was held in check; her first kill came at 19-18. Buoyed was the vocal crowd, the closing ability of Hawai`i was on display as the final three points were recorded by UH. Bows stole the set 26-24 (like they did a year ago against LBSU) and seemed to steal the heart of The Beach as well. Four total ties and two lead changes the rest of the way as UH won their 11th straight match over Long Beach (26-24, 25-18, 25-18). LBSU out-blocked UH 12-6, but the Bows won every other statistical category. More impressively was the serving of UH. Serving both efficiently and tough, UH served in at a 97.3% clip and had seven aces to just two errors.
After an emotional win the night before, UH entertained Cal State Fullerton. A team UH handled earlier in the season. A team UH has never lost to before. A team that didn’t have their number one offensive option. And yet…another slow start for the Bows. A little bit of a letdown combined with Fullerton coming out with nothing to lose saw Head Coach Robyn Ah Mow call a timeout with her Bows down 12-8. Those two 25-18 set scores from a night before…that was the theme of round two for UH against the Titans. All three set scores were the same…25-18. Same match result for the Bows from the night before. It was UH’s 10th 3-0 victory of the season. A focal point of the UH scouting report was to run the middle and Setter Kate Lang found both Igiede and Tiffany Westerberg early and often. Igiede put down 15 kills on 26 swings to hit .500 and Westerberg, who had just one kill on seven swings the night before, had eight kills on 13 errorless swings to hit .615. A little more diversity in UH’s offense as the Bows have seen some consistent offensive production from the right side as Braelyn Akana recorded 14 kills on the weekend. The fourth double-double of the season for Riley Wagoner (10 kills, 11 digs) as UH hit .353 for the victory to move to 47-0 all-time in the series against the Titans. It marked the eighth time this season for UH to hit over .300 as the continued to stay a game up on UC Santa Barbara in the conference standings with six matches remaining.
BWC roadtrip four of five is next up for UH as they face UC San Diego on Friday before taking on UC Irvine on Saturday. The Bows defeated both teams on the island earlier this season; a 3-0 sweep over UC Irvine (where UH hit a season-high .471) and a tough 4-set victory against UC San Diego. In both matches, UH libero Tayli Ikenaga did not play. Both matches will have coverage on CBS 1500 (due to Rainbow Warrior Basketball and Rainbow Warrior Football).
Also of note, this Wednesday is the first day that High School athletes can sign National Letters of Intent. After talking with the coaching staff this past weekend, UH expects their two verbal commits to stay true to their word and sign to become a Rainbow Wahine.
Photos by: David Croxford