ESPN Honolulu Rainbow Wahine play-by-play voice Tiff Wells with his six biggest takeaways from the previous week for the Bows
By: Tiff Wells
1 – Guersching seizes opportunity. After six kills in Set 3 on Friday at Long Beach State, Paula Guersching was given the chance to start on Saturday at UC San Diego. In place of Caylen Alexander as the second Outside Hitter, Guersching did a little bit of everything in her first ever start as a Rainbow Wahine. Seven kills on 22 swings to hit .273, five service aces, four digs and a perfect seven-of-seven on serve receive aided with two key service runs (6-0 in run Set 1, 4-0 run in Set 3) helped the Bows to their first road win of the season.
2 – Evans goes career in La Jolla. With some family members in town on Saturday, Kennedi Evans got off to a hot start with five kills in Set 1. She saved the best for last as she recorded six kills. All in all, the redshirt senior middle blocker recorded a career-high 13 kills on 23 swings with just one error to hit .522. More known for her blocking, offense from Evans is a bonus and it reminds the opponent to not forget about her when she’s in the front row.
3 – Pins struggle in Long Beach. In the venue that will host the 2023 Big West Women’s Volleyball Championship in November, UH notched their third lowest hitting percentage (.157) of the season. LBSU hit a little better at .180 and also forced UH into 29 hitting errors. None of the three starting UH pin hitters hit above .175 (.160, .000 and -.080) as The Beach snapped an 11-match losing streak to UH and also scored their first 3-0 sweep over the Rainbow Wahine since 1997. UH only gave up three service aces but struggled not only with the depth perception and sight lines of the Pyramid, but also had problems with lefty attacker Natalie Glenn. Glenn had 11 kills and three service aces and was constantly putting pressure on UH with her spin serve.
4 – Night one took an L but bounced back on night two. After a tough 3-0 loss at Long Beach State on Friday, how would UH respond less than 24 hours at UC San Diego? Sometimes after a tough loss, it’s a lot better to play the next night rather than wait a few days for that next opportunity. Set 1 at UCSD ended up being the tightest of the three sets with 14 ties and seven lead changes. A 10-3 close paved the way to UH getting the road split to move to 3-1 in Big West Conference play. Against the league leader in blocks per set, UH was only blocked three times by UC San Diego, including just one in the final two sets.
5 – Two weeks in and the standings are cluttered. Through two weeks and four matches completed by all, just two teams (UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis) remain unbeaten at 4-0. Four others (Hawai`i, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and UC Riverside) all are a game back at 3-1. Remember that for the Big West Women’s Volleyball Championship, just six teams qualify. Due to being in their final year of reclassification, UC San Diego is ineligible. With Cal State Fullerton (0-4) and UC Irvine (0-3) coming to the islands this week, it’s important and imperative for UH to take care of business at home to not only maintain pace with the lead pack but also with the next road-trip of three matches in five days.
6 – Net and floor defense continues to be there. In the six sets over the weekend, Hawai`i notched 17 blocks and 97 digs. 12 of those 17 blocks were at Long Beach State. Kennedi Evans was in on nine of them. The defense kept UH in that match at Long Beach and aided the Bows to the sweep at UC San Diego. Averaging 15 plus digs a set and about two and a quarter blocks per set, UH is just a half game out of first-place and one of those top two seeds for the Big West Women’s Volleyball Championship.