By: Tiff Wells
1 – Strong response after a tough loss. After a two hour and 46 minute five set match that saw the original call of the final play be overturned against them and thus, resulting in a loss at UCSB, how would UH respond on the quick turnaround? In a word…strong. 17 kills en route to a .467 hitting percentage and also siding out at 73% (14-of-19) off of first-ball contact, UH quieted a near capacity crowd at Cal Poly early on. Riley Wagoner, Amber Igiede and Paula Guersching each had five kills in that opening set as UH would eventually win the match in four sets and end the tough Central Coast road-trip at 1-1.
2 – Guersching gets Hawai`i career-high at UCSB. Against arguably the toughest defense in the Big West Conference, Paula Guersching shined offensively for UH as she continues to get more and more comfortable each week. Guersching recorded a Hawai`i career-high of 16 kills on 41 swings, with just one hitting error to hit .366 on the evening. When in the lineup, Guersching provides that tall left-side hitter option that UH hasn’t had the last couple of seasons. Against the 12th ranked team in the nation in blocks per set, UH held their own at the net (UH actually out hit UCSB .210 to .200) and only lost the block battle by one (10 to 9).
3 – Ikenaga steps in at libero. After being the number one defensive specialist all season-long, Tayli Ikenaga was given the libero spot heading into set two on Friday at UCSB…and never relinquished it in Saturday’s match. A season-high 17 digs, coupled with six assists on Friday night propelled her into the starting lineup on Saturday at Cal Poly. 12 digs, three assists and two service aces along with a key serving run in the fourth set helped the Bows to a four set win at Cal Poly and through four weeks, remain in a tie for second place with Long Beach State at 6-2. For the weekend, UH outdug both opponents (85-82 versus UCSB, 55-50 against Cal Poly).
4 – Sometimes you close, others you don’t. Twice on Friday night, UH held leads late in a set only to see the Gauchos come from behind to win. A 4-0 close in Sets 1 and 3 saw UH trail twice in the match score before falling 15-13 in the fifth set. UH was able to close Set 4 on a 5-1 run to push it to a fifth set. On Saturday, while UH saw Cal Poly score three of the final four points in Set 2 to tie the match, Hawai`i sided out their way to a 2-1 match lead and also turned a 14-13 deficit into a 25-16 Set 4 win and 3-1 match victory. Clutch scoring runs from the service line by both Ikenaga and Alexander enabled the Bows to win the set and match going away. For the most part, the season has been defined by scoring runs, both for and against Hawai`i.
5 – Tweaks to the right side. On Friday, it was Kendra Ham with the start on the right side. And then on Saturday, Caylen Alexander returned to the starting lineup as she got the start in place of Ham as UH looked for a little more offense from Alexander. 12 kills and 10 digs, along with two blocks and two service aces, last year’s Big West Conference Freshman of the Year hit .258 and was one of three attackers with 10 or more kills in the win at Cal Poly. With having played just one set on Friday, Alexander was fresh and ready to go on Saturday. Friday also saw a modified six attacker, two setter system as both Jackie Matias and Tali Hakas entered the match for Kendra Ham and Kate Lang respectively, just trying to give UH three available front row hitting options.
6 – A little bit of everything in Santa Barbara. And it all came in the fifth set. A challenge that was issued by Hawai`i that never took place…because the replay monitor wasn’t working. UH was given the challenge back but lost the point on the original call. A few points later, there is a power surge in the arena, but only on one side. It just so happened to be on the side where both radio and tv are and we both temporarily lost power. The controls for the scoreboard were also on our side and thus, both scoreboards and the jumbotron above the court lost power as well. Once the replay monitor began working, it was determined by the officials that the replay system would be put back in place for the rest of the match. Which would be big because as UH rallied from a 14-10 deficit to tie it at 14, a challenge by UCSB was successful to overturn the original call and give them the 15-13 set victory and 3-2 match win.