By: Tiff Wells
1 – Sweet sweep of victory…times two. An 83-minute 3-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton, followed by a nearly two-hour sweep over UC Irvine on night two, Hawai`i held serve at home twice this past weekend to maintain pace with the league leaders. Through six matches in conference play, each of those six for the Bows have gone the minimum. No extra or unnecessary sets needed because of a lack of focus when up 2-0 in the match has allowed UH to try multiple combinations and let many of the reserves see extended court time. UH also didn’t trip up in the present by looking ahead to what’s coming up.
2 – You get in the match…and you get in…and you…and you. Friday’s match against Cal State Fullerton featured a season-high 14 players get court time, while 11 registered at least one kill. Paula Guersching started her first UH match at home, while Caylen Alexander returned to the starting lineup on the left side. Night two against UC Irvine had two different left side hitters get the start (Riley Wagoner, Tali Hakas). A total of 11 players got into the match with seven recording at least three kills. Kate Lang and Jackie Matias both ran the offense as UH continued their 5-1 attack with multiple combinations.
3 – Winning comes in many ways. The domination shown by UH against a younger Titans team, the Rainbow Wahine won every single statistical category and each set was never in doubt. Outside of being down 1-0 in Set 1 and 4-3 in Set 3, UH never trailed in the match. The Bows outhit (.271 to -.049), outdug (47 to 39) and outblocked (10.5 to 2) the Titans. UH also sided out at 70% (30 of 44) off of first-ball contact. On night two against UC Irvine however, UH never could quite pull away in any of the sets. While unable to string together points off serve on a consistent basis, UH did get a late 5-0 serving run to close Set 1. After giving up four straight points in Set 2, Amber Igiede saved the day to close out the set. With a 16-all Set 3, UH was able to close on a 9-4 extended run. Not pretty at times, UH outhit (.217 to .172) and outdug (64-50) the Anteaters. Even with UH being outblocked (5 to 3.5, a season-low for UH), the more experienced team found a way to win at home.
4 – Pin trio by committee for Hawai`i. On Friday night, the starting left sides were Paula Guersching and Caylen Alexander with Kendra Ham getting the start on the right side. Throughout the match, Stella Adeyemi, Riley Wagoner and Tai Hakas each started a set as a pin hitter. One night later, the trio to start was Wagoner and Hakas, with Ham as the right side starter. Guersching and Alexander would get set starts later in the match. UH fans also saw Wagoner come into the back row for Guersching as well. A different backrow leader was seen in the libero jersey both nights as Tayli Ikenaga came in for the starter, Talia Edmonds. So many different combinations used by Hawai`i could help the Bows in the long run as it not only makes scouting difficult, but it also allows for players to get rest and save their legs. On the other side however, constant changes to the lineup might not allow starters to gel together quickly enough and get comfortable together as we near the halfway point of conference play.
5 – Saturday’s season-high crowd. With UH Football on a bye, the Rainbow Wahine saw a season-high crowd 6,603 in house for their Saturday match against UC Irvine. There are just five home matches remaining on the schedule (barring a late RPI push to help UH into the Top 16 and receive hosting duties for a subregional) for you to see the Bows in person and with three of those home matches against Cal Poly (Nov. 3), UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 4) and Long Beach State (Nov. 18 and it’s Senior Night), I’d expect at least one…maybe two…hopefully all three of them to have larger crowds than what UH had against UC Irvine.
6 – Big West Week 3 play is…crazy. UC Riverside takes league leader UC Santa Barbara to five sets. Two days later, the Gauchos were up 2-0 at UC Davis before needing to win the match in five sets. Long Beach State also goes to five sets twice and only wins one of them; they get the victory at Cal State Bakersfield but were unable to win at CSUN. Speaking of UC Davis, they came into the week at 4-0 in conference play; they leave the week at 4-2, with both losses coming at home. After three weeks, UC Santa Barbara is still on top at 6-0. Both Hawai`i and Cal Poly are 5-1, while UC Davis and Long Beach State are both 4-2. UCSB gets to host both Cal Poly and Hawai`i this week.