By: Tiff Wells
13 days off from their last match played, how would Hawai`i fair on the road again? Finishing off an extended 5-match road trip spread out over three weeks, the unanimous and top ranked team in the land ventured to The Farm for two matches against No. 8 Stanford. As healthy as they have been since the opening night, UH welcomed back Jakob Thelle, Guilherme Voss, Spyros Chakas and Chaz Galloway into the starting lineup. Another aspect of UH’s game…one that has been a big of the programs’ success over the last couple of years..would be welcomed back with open arms throughout the entire series against the Cardinal.
Nothing flashy at all for UH, it was all business throughout the match and the entire series. Playing its first ranked opponent since the opening week of the season, a 7-2 close paved the way for a 25-22 UH Set 1 win. Siding out at 73%, the Bows would match that in Set 2 to win it 25-19, closing the frame on a 7-1 run, punctuated by a Cole Hogland and Dimitrios Mouchlias double-block. UH hit .696 (16-0-23) in the set. For all of the talking through the net, the celebratory antics by the bench, UH led in the most important category…2-0 in the match. Tied at 20-all in Set 3, UH needed a couple of match point opportunities. Making his first appearance since January 20th, Jakob Thelle called game from the service line with the match-ending ace to win it for the Bows 26-24. A season-high .440 hitting percentage, UH was efficient offensively as they had a season-low seven hitting errors. The block which had been very quiet to begin the season, recorded at least 8.5 stuff blocks for the third straight match.
Moving venues (Maples Pavilion to Burnham Pavilion) for the second match against Stanford proved to be a more intimate environment. It brought back memories of when Hawai`i volleyball played their matches in Klum gym. Like Friday with no admission charged, Saturday’s limited capacity (only 1,000 would be let in) forced fans to show up even earlier to ensure they would get in. You know Hawai`i travels well in any sport…and again, the fans showed up. About 90 minutes prior the doors opening, there were already 30-40 fans lined up. Once the clock hit 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, one by one fans filed in and raced to where they wanted to sit.
Stanford led for the majority of the set, but couldn’t close. From down 18-21 to up 24-22, UH found a way to close it out and win 27-25. If you thought there was a lot of chirping through the net and celebratory bench antics…think again. Taking the lead 15-13 at the halfway point, it ballooned to 21-16 before winning it 25-19 on a crosscourt kill from Chaz Galloway. Following the kill, a staredown through the net from Galloway and he would later receive a verbal warning from the top official. With the teams not switching sides and no challenge review system in place, UH leaned on Dimitrios Mouchlias. 10 kills through two sets for Dimi as the left side attackers Chaz Galloway and Spyros Chakas struggled to convert opportunities offensively. We mentioned the talking. It got to a point where the normally stoic Jakob Thelle and even Chaz Galloway looked at the top ref in disbelief with the amount of talking through the net. It got so bad that two yellow cards were issued in the first four points of the third set, with one given to Galloway even before the third set began. A blistering 7-1 lead for Hawai`i was short-lived as Stanford tied it at 11. A quiet hush came over the crowd as Stanford’s Will Rottman landed on a teammates ankle late in the set and had to be helped off the court. Fitting the match ends on a block for UH, this one by Mouchlias and Guilherme Voss as UH wins it 25-19 to take the match 3-0.
Ninth straight win against Stanford in the series, UH extended its set win streak to 24 and its NCAA-best match win streak to 18. It was good for UH to be pushed. Two of the six sets went to deuce. Nothing fancy for UH offensively, UH did a better job in match two of limiting the errors from the service line. They didn’t let Stanford get into their heads as the Bows moved to 5-0 on the road this season…all by 3-0 wins.
You still would like to see better serve receive from Hawai`i, keeping Jakob Thelle in the middle of the court. You would also like to see the block travel back home. The Bows had 21 stuff blocks in six sets played. Offensively, the Bows showed they could get by with only one pin hitter having a good night. You don’t want that to become the norm as Hawai`i still has some really good teams on their schedule that are better than Stanford. It’s been a minute since UH has played a home match. After flying home on Sunday, the Bows will open up a season-long 11-match homestand on Thursday against Concordia University Irvine (4-5).
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