By: Tiff Wells
1 – Igiede moves up the ranks. After this past weekend, Senior Middle Blocker Amber Igiede passed Diana Jessie for 13th place all-time in career kills. Igiede now sits at 1267 kills with four regular season matches remaining, plus the postseason. She’s also closing in on a major milestone as she sits at 497 career total blocks, just three shy of becoming just the fourth player in Hawai`i history with 1,000 plus kills and 500 plus blocks (Angelica Ljungqvist, Suzanne Eagye and Deitre Collins).
2 – Offense from Evans again. Redshirt Senior Middle Blocker Kennedi Evans continue to provide another offensive outlet for Setter Kate Lang. Eight kills on 18 swings to hit .389 against Cal Poly on Friday night, Evans led UH on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara with 10 kills on 22 swings. With UH’s second middle blocker providing offense and forcing the opponent to defend her, it’ll hopefully allow more one on one opportunities for the pin hitters in November…and hopefully into December.
3 – Gauchos slow down Alexander. Playing in four of the eight sets during the regular season series against UC Santa Barbara, Caylen Alexander recorded just four kills. In meeting one, she came off the bench to play one set, recording one kill on four swings. In the matchup at home this past Saturday, the sophomore right side hitter had three kills on 16 swings with three hitting errors. Should UH play the Gauchos meet in the Conference Tournament for a third meeting in 2023, the Rainbow Wahine offense will need offensive production from Alexander, last year’s Big West Conference Freshman of the Year.
4 – Starting pin hitters struggle. Outside of Alexander’s 18 kill performance against Cal Poly on Friday where she hit .234, no other starting pin hitter had more than eight kills and no one hit higher than .136. Yes Tali Hakas had seven kills to hit .263 against UCSB and Kendra Ham recorded nine kills to hit .538 versus Cal Poly, both the Mustangs and Gauchos scouted the tendencies of UH’s pin hitters well. Both Guersching and Wagoner combined to hit below .100 for the weekend. It also didn’t help that the UH serve receive broke down (15 reception errors in eight sets and numerous second ball contacts from Kate Lang that were played 10-to-15 feet off the net) throughout the weekend. With this grouping, you can afford for one hitter to have an off-night, but it gets tough to win when multiple pin hitters are struggling and the passing isn’t consistent.
5 – #InvadeThe…Crawford? We learned two weeks ago that The Bren Events Center (home facility of UC Irvine) was out of commission against both UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly because of “a facility issue.” Those two matches were played at their practice gym, Crawford Court. We later learned a pipe burst and leaked inside, causing damage. While a temporary floor has been put in place for now inside The Bren, UC Irvine has announced that their final two home matches this week, which includes Senior Night against Hawai`i on Friday, will be played in Crawford. Because the UH match was expected to be at The Bren, ticket sales have already exceeded the capacity of Crawford and the match is already sold out. Don’t worry, we’ll have live radio coverage beginning at 3:45pm HT, 5:45pm PT.
6 – It’s been a while. For the first time since 2013, Hawai`i has lost consecutive conference matches. And for the first time since 1993, the Bows lost back-to-back conference home matches. Preseason picked to finish first in the conference, UH entered the week in a tie for second (with Long Beach State) and exit in a tie for third (Cal Poly), having lost the regular season series to UC Santa Barbara. With four matches remaining and a shot a possible fourth consecutive regular season conference title all but gone, the Bows will need to win out and get some help to avoid playing on the first day of the Big West Conference Championship on Quarterfinal Wednesday. Also keep in mind that outside of 2020 when the BWC cancelled the season, UH has made every NCAA Tournament since missing out during injury plagued 1992 season.