By: Tiff Wells
1 – Starters take care of business. The three-time defending conference champions made an early statement in their conference opening set, winning 25-8 as Cal State Bakersfield registered just four kills and hit -.086. Of the six sets played over the weekend, UH held their opponents to a negative hitting percentage in three of them. Only once (25-20 in Set 2 against the Roadrunners) did an opponent reach 20 points in a set. 12 Rainbow Wahine saw the floor on Friday while a season-high 13 players got into the match on Sunday. Subs came in early and often, allowing the coaching staff to run multiple lineups with both setters.
2 – Guersching shows the offense. Just four kills in limited action over the first 11 matches, Paula Guersching was given more opportunities against both Cal State Bakersfield and CSUN this past weekend. Three kills on seven errorless swings against the Roadrunners was just a glimpse of what we’d see on Sunday. A UH-high seven kills on 15 swings with just one error against the Matadors helped UH’s offense hit a season-high .402. Yes the transition from Youngstown State to Hawai`i has been a little difficult, but the first week of conference play gave Guersching the confidence and she looked more comfortable on the taraflex in front of the UH fan base. UH’s offense as a whole had a great weekend. They hit .323 on Friday in addition to the .402 on Sunday. Three of the last four matches has seen UH hit above .323.
3 – Adeyemi with the play of the weekend. In her UH debut, freshman Stella Adeyemi had the play of the weekend. After Kate Lang dug a ball, Kendra Ham turned to face the backrow after coming down from the block attempt to play the ball as the second contact. Playing in middle back, Adeyemi dove to her left to get the third touch as it would then get over the net…and land in on Cal State Bakersfield’s side. Maybe not the way she would have envisioned recording her first kill as a Rainbow Wahine, but it’s certainly one that Adeyemi will remember forever. The effort and all-out hustle from the freshman gave UH the boost to close out Set 2 25-20. Like many of the UH subs over the weekend, Adeyemi took advantage of the opportunity for playing time and played well.
4 – Force the opponent’s second option to beat you. On Tuesday, Cal State Bakersfield’s Ava Palm had a season-high 18 kills against CSUN en route to a .415 hitting percentage. UH held her to just seven kills on 28 swings, hitting just .107. CSUN’s Taylor Hunter came into Sunday’s match hitting .332 (BWC 2nd) with a 1.25 blocks per set average (BWC 3rd). Three kills on just seven swings with zero blocks was her stat-line. Tough serving by UH also got CSUN out-of-system and thus, they couldn’t utilize their best hitter when she was in the front row. For the weekend the Bows held Cal State Bakersfield to an .094 hitting percentage while the Matadors hit -.035.
5 – Look in front of you, not behind. With the first big test of the conference schedule coming at Long Beach State, UH didn’t look ahead to it by stumbling in a set (or two) over the weekend against Cal State Bakersfield and/or CSUN. Two dominant sweeps, both of which were done in under 90 minutes. The focus was there from the start on Friday through the end of Sunday as the lead only changed three total times combined in the two matches. It was UH early, it was UH often and it was UH all match long in both wins to start conference play 2-0. Now the focus can solely turn to Long Beach State for Friday.
6 – Don’t miss out on seeing Amber Igiede. The Senior All-American Middle Blocker had a ridiculous stat-line over the weekend. 12 kills on 25 swings with one error as she hit .440 against Cal State Bakersfield. It got better on Sunday with a 13 kill performance on 18 errorless swings to hit a season-high .722 against CSUN. Combined, that’s 25 kills with just one error on 43 attacks to hit .581. For a middle blocker…only playing three rotations. Six blocks and eight digs over the weekend in her last first conference opening weekend at home for her career. For this group of seniors, just seven regular season home matches remain on the schedule for you to see them on the island.