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6 takeaways for Rainbow Wahine Volleyball 2023 | Week 9

6 takeaways for Rainbow Wahine Volleyball 2023 | Week 9

By: Tiff Wells

1 – Different locale in same week…same result. Due to the addition of the Big West Conference Championship, one conference week of competition was taken off the board. That week occurred this past week. Playing two teams just once, you travel to one of them while you host the other. Totally random in how it was set up by the BWC, UH stayed on the road after their Central Coast road-trip (UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly) and took a bus ride to UC Davis. An 89-minute sweep by the Bows ended the trip on a nice positive note. Coming home to play just one home match four days later, UH played 14 players in their 3-0 victory over the Highlanders.

2 – Defense stymies oppositions top offensive option. UC Davis’ Olivia Utterback came into Tuesday’s match one of the top attackers in the conference. Ranked in the top 20 in kills per set, hitting percentage, aces per set and points per set, the Bows defense held her in check the entire night. Utterback had a total of six kills on 26 swings (hit .038) and recorded zero aces and scored just seven total points. Four nights later, Sophia Ewalefo for UC Riverside came in top 15 in kills per set. After five kills in Set 1, Ewalefo recorded just three more kills in the entire match. UH took to heart the scouting report and played it out to a tee en route to two sweeps over the week.

3 – Serve receive, set, kill…on repeat. If you blinked, you may have missed UH being on serve receive. The Bows hardly gave up lengthy serving runs by the opponent. In the six sets played this week, Hawai`i sided out off first-ball contact 70% of the time in five of those sets. What made it more impressive was the number of passing trios UH used throughout the week. The Rainbow Wahine also saved the best for last as in Set 3 on Saturday against UC Riverside, UH sided out at 92% (11-of-12). For the match against the Highlanders, UH sided out at a ridiculous 81% (38-of-50). More often that not, if you side out around 70% for the match, chances are likely you win the match. UC Davis came into Tuesday’s match as one of the top serving teams in the BWC but against UH, they only had three service aces (and only one in the final two sets) in the three sets played.

4 – More offensive in conference play. After last night’s 3-0 win over UC Riverside, the Rainbow Wahine are now hitting .238 on the season. A respectable number, considering what the non-conference schedule looked like and what kind of offensive numbers UH put up in them. The Bows are hitting .273 in conference matches. Also of note Hawai`i is the fact they have hit over .300 in seven matches this season, with five of them coming in conference play. 

5 – Ikenaga holding it down at libero. Making her second and third starts of the season at libero this past week, Tayli Ikenaga shined wearing the different color jersey. A match-high 11 digs, 13-of-13 on serve receive with four assists against the Aggies. It was more of the same against the Highlanders on Saturday. Another match-high in digs (14) to go along with 11-of-11 on serve receive with three assists. Ikenaga got all 21 of her serves in play while leading UH to a 75% (75-of-103) side out percentage for the weekend and a serve receive that gave up just six aces to the opposition (three in each match).

6 – Igiede climbing the ranks. After Saturday’s win over UC Riverside, Amber Igiede moved passed former Rainbow Wahine Jessica Sudduth for 15th place all-time in Hawai`i history in career kills. Coming into this week, Igiede sits at 1221 kills (12 shy of 14th place) and 489 blocks (UH 6th). Igiede needs 11 total blocks to give her 500 for her career, which would make her just the fourth Rainbow Wahine to enter the 1,000 kill/500 block club, joining Angelica Ljungqvist, Suzanne Eague and Deitre Collins. From lightly recruited to an All-American and conference Player of the Year, there are only four more home matches remaining for Igiede and this senior class.

Photos: Jonathan Salvador