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At The Net: A Rainbow Warrior Volleyball Blog by Tiff Wells | Week 13

By: Tiff Wells

When you get into April, you would like to be playing meaningful matches. Not only was it senior week for the Bows, which is already very meaningful on its own, but UH came into senior week with postseason fate in its own hands. Owning the tiebreaker over Long Beach State, UH understood that two wins over UC San Diego would give them the number one seed in next week’s Outrigger Resorts Men’s Volleyball Championship, presented by The Hawaiian Islands. The Tritons, although coming into the series with a sub-.500 record, wanted to play spoiler. And nearly did on night one.

Not playing its best to begin Friday’s match, the Bows faced two set point opportunities. Down 24-22, UH found a way. A triple block and then an ace from Cole Hogland gave UH the advantage. It took a couple of set points but on its third of the set, a kill from the birthday boy Guilherme Voss gave UH the 28-26 victory and a 1-0 match lead. Despite UCSD recording 20 kills and UH having eight service errors in the set, the Bows still found a way to win. A 10-8 Set 2 ballooned into a 20-12 advantage before UH won it 25-17. Not going away quietly, the Tritons ran away with Set 3. Up 9-8, they led by as many as seven (19-12). UH got it to within three (20-17) but the deficit was too much as the Tritons forced a fourth set, winning the third 25-19. Unhappy with the Set 3 performance, UH played angry the entire fourth frame. Up 4-2, the Bows ran away with the set. Leading 18-9, it grew to 22-12 and eventually winning the set 25-14 and the match 3-1. The block came alive in sets 3 and 4 as UH recorded 10.5 of their season-high 14.5 blocks in the final two sets. On a night where the nation’s leading team by hitting percentage was held below .300 for just the fourth time this season (.275), the Bows fed off the home crowd and found a way to win.

Careers go by fast. Come in as a wide-eyed freshman and you witness your senior teammates go through the festivities. In the blink of an eye, it becomes your senior night. And if there’s one match a Hawai`i fan finds a way to attend, it is Senior Night. No one in the country celebrates and honors their seniors like they do here in the islands. In front of its second sellout crowd of the season and 13th in program history since Men’s Volleyball began playing inside the arena in the 1995 season, UH knew they had to put on a show. Control the emotions, take care of business, win a share of the regular season title…and then enjoy the festivities that come with Senior Night. Leads of 9-6, 19-14 were enough for UH as the Bows took Set 1 25-19. The Bows hit .419 (14-1-31) in the frame, siding out at 89% (17-of-19) off of first ball contact. A back-and-forth Set 2 featured 13 ties. With UH down 22-21, the 13th and final tie came at 22-all. The Bows scored the final four points of the set, winning it 25-21 and taking a 2-0 match lead. Jakob Thelle served his 120th career ace during a 6-0 scoring run that gave UH the cushion it needed. Spyros Chakas put the set away with three consecutive aces as the Bows notched their 18th 3-0 win of the season, winning the set 25-21 and ending the home portion of the schedule with a 17-2 record. Reigning AVCA National Player of the Week Dimitrios Mouchlias has been on a tear of late, scoring ten or more kills now in five straight matches. 

Not a dry eye in the arena as one by one, each of the six seniors were honored. The ovations got louder and louder as Devon Johnson, Kana`i Akana, Dimitrios Mouchlias, Cole Hogland, Filip Humler and Jakob Thelle each emerged through the tunnel one final time and thanked the crowd. Senior Nights are special. 10,300 came to the arena…and nearly everyone stayed for the festivities and then well after the official program was done to give lei, take pictures, ask for autographs and just to say thank you one final time here at home.

Job isn’t done yet as part three of the season…the postseason…begins on Friday. With receiving the one seed in the upcoming Outrigger Resorts Men’s Volleyball Championship, presented by The Hawaiian Islands, the Bows receive a bye into Semifinal Friday. UH will play the winner from Thursday’s 4/5 Quarterfinal matchup, featuring UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego. Our coverage on Friday can be heard on ESPN Honolulu, beginning at 1:45pm HT / 4:45pm PT. On the other side of the bracket is 2-seed Long Beach State, along with host and 3-seed UC Irvine and 6-seed CSUN. Saturday’s final is scheduled for a 4:30pm HT / 7:30pm PT start. Tickets are still available. Hope to see you at The Bren Events Center this week. 

One final shoutout to the best fan base in the land. Two sellouts this season for #WarriorBall23. Y’all have been great all season long. 19 home matches for a total attendance of 126,385. An average of 6,652 per match, the highest average for the program since 1998 (7,115).

#GoBows #WarriorBall23 #HawaiiMVB #NCAAMVB

Photos: Jonathan Salvador