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At The Net: A Rainbow Warrior Volleyball Blog by Tiff Wells | Week 11

By: Tiff Wells

One week. That was all the time UH was away from the being number one. Because of a Penn State loss at home, the Rainbow Warriors were back to the top spot in the Top 15 Coaches Poll. Also moving up three spots in the latest RPI, the Bows were also back on the road after having been home for just a couple of days. With two of the three weekly conference award winners in tow (Offensive Player of the Week: Dimitrios Mouchlias and Defensive Player of the Week: Guilherme Voss), it was time to begin the final regular season road-trip of 2023.

One match at a time. That’s been the mentality of the program all season long. As Head Coach Charlie has mentioned throughout the week, he was worried about unranked UC Santa Barbara. Even with a number of players out with injury, a scrappy and defensive minded Gauchos squad came in with the top-rated strength of schedule in the country and looked to add a major highlight to a season where the record has been under .500.

A quick start for UH, followed by numerous ties throughout the set. The last at 21-all, UH scored four of the final five points to win 25-22 and take the 1-0 match lead. Four early kills from Spyros Chakas and UH’s defense held UCSB’s Ryan Wilcox without a kill until midway (UH 18-16) through the frame. Down 9-2 in the second set? No problem at all. A 7-point deficit erased as the set became tied at 11. Again, another 20-20 game became a textbook UH close as the Bows ended the set scoring five of the final six points to take the 2-0 match lead. Serving runs by Mouchlias and Kana`i Akana helped to aid UH in the comeback. Again, another deficit early on (12-7) in set three wasn’t too large for UH to overcome. Again tied at 21, UCSB got to set point at 24-22. Could UH finally drop a set on the road this? N-O-P-E. Insert Keoni Thiim and his off his service run, the set went into extra time as UH held the advantage. Sure UH needed four match points to close out the Gauchos, but when in doubt, All-American Setter Jakob Thelle went to his O1 and Chakas put down back-to-back kills to end the set (29-27) and the match…another UH road sweep. UH hit over .400 (46-9-88) for the 11th time this season, Chakas recorded yet another double-digit kill (13) evening as Thelle entered the top 10 in UH career assists, while also serving his 116th career ace. Make it now 14-straight wins over UCSB, 6th-straight in Santa Barbara. 

Outside of two ties in the opening set on match two, the Bows led the entire way. Hitting .483 (17-3-29) en route to a 25-19 victory. The highlight of the set…and frankly of the entire weekend…was the Kong block by Jakob Thelle off an overpass of serve late in the frame. That really got the UH fans…and even some of the UCSB faithful…on their feet in applause. A couple of early deficits in Set 2 were nothing for UH as they eventually held leads of 15-11, 21-16 to then ultimately take the set 25-21 and a commanding 2-0 match lead. Not going down without a fight, the undermanned and undersized Gauchos took a lead of 21-17 in the third set and even held two set point opportunities. They couldn’t close. UH needed three match point opportunities before closing out UCSB in extra time, 29-27. 

A 15th consecutive win over UCSB, 7-straight wins at Santa Barbara, UH has had UCSB’s number. UH closes the road portion of its regular season perfect. Nine matches played, nine matches won…all by 3-0 set scores. For a 12th time this season, UH hits over .400 as Jakob Thelle directed the Bows’ offense to a .418 (48-10-91) clip. Four Hawai`i attackers had seven or more kills, including the match-high 14 from Dimitrios Mouchlias and 12 from Chaz Galloway. On a night where UH overcame 18 service errors (second most on the season), an efficient offense and timely blocking and scoring runs proved to be the difference.

Two weeks left, four matches remain. Three teams (Hawai`i, UC Irvine and Long Beach State) vying for the top two seeds and the other three (CSUN, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego) battling it out for seeds four through six. UC Irvine (at Hawai`i for two and then a home and home with LBSU) has the toughest schedule. The Bows return home to face league-leading and undefeated UC Irvine. Ranked fifth in the country, the Anteaters boast one of the top servers in the country, Hilir Henno. He already owns the single-season UCI program record for service aces. Complimented by a dominant outside hitter Francesco Sani and steady pin hitter Cole Gillis, the Anteaters come to the island for a big two-match series with Hawai`i. Keep in mind with UH Baseball at home as well, get to Lower Campus early in what should be another exciting series at home. A lot on the line. Hope to see you there.

#GoBows #WarriorBall23 #HawaiiMVB #NCAAMVB