By: Tiff Wells
1 – Venue change isn’t an issue. Two weeks prior to the Hawai`i-UC Irvine match, the Anteaters had moved their matches with UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly from The Bren Events Center to Crawford Court because of “a facility issue.” The Bows knew there was a strong possibility that the match would be in the smaller venue. For those that have been to Gym I (where UH routinely practices) on campus, it’s a lot like Crawford. Low ceilings coupled with walls maybe 25-to-30 feet from the endlines can throw off your dimensions if you’re not used to it. The Rainbow Wahine played like they were practicing in Gym I, that they were the home team and not letting the change of venue affect them. 87 minutes was all UH needed to win the match that featured only four lead changes and seven total ties.
2 – Igiede joins E-L-I-T-E company. Having already joined the 1,000 kill club a few weeks ago, Amber Igiede entered a very exclusive club early on in the match at UC Irvine. After her third block against the Anteaters, it gave her 500 for her career. With 1,000 plus kills and 500 plus blocks, Igiede becomes the fourth member of this very exclusive club, joining Angelica Ljungqvist, Suzanne Eagye and Deitre Collins. After six kills, two aces and eight blocks against UC Irvine, she ended the weekend with 17 kills, three aces (ties season high) and three blocks against Cal State Fullerton.
3 – Offense for defense. Another wrinkle in UH’s starting rotation this past weekend as Paula Guersching played the front row for Riley Wagoner. Guersching recorded 21 kills for the weekend, including 12 on 22 errorless swings against UC Irvine, which came out to a UH season high of a .545 hitting percentage. Wagoner also shined defensively with 16 digs and going 21-of-22 on serve receive. Wagoner also scored two service aces in her serving run to begin the fourth set 6-0 against Cal State Fullerton as UH would go on to win the set 25-14 and the match 3-1.
4 – Hakas goes all the way around. In another change to the starting lineup, Freshman Tali Hakas got the start on the left side in both matches this past weekend. Against UCI, she scored 11 kills (ties UH career high) on 23 swings to hit a very respectable .348, while notching seven digs and was in on six of the 11.5 team blocks. A change of venue and opponent in night two, Hakas remained consistent. In UH’s final conference road match of 2023, Hakas matched her UH career high of 11 kills and hit .216. She served two aces and had eight digs as well. For the seven sets played, she also went 36-of-37 on serve receive. And of course with her on the floor, you know the energy and enthusiasm is always present. Don’t be surprised when the weekly conference awards come out on Monday if Hakas doesn’t receive some votes for Freshman of the Week.
5 – Serve in play, good things will happen. Nearly every coach will say two things when asked about serving. 1-We must win the serve and pass game to be in the match and 2-our ace to error ratio should be around 1-to-2. A respectable five ace to seven error night against UC Irvine, UH kept their serves in play at a 90.4% rate. That number jumped way up to 95.7% against Cal State Fullerton where UH had 12 aces to just two errors. Nothing special with the serves as no one has a jump serve, the Rainbow Wahine just simply found gaps between the receivers for the easy points. The Bows saved its best serving clinic for the last set of the weekend as seven of their 12 aces came in the fourth and final set.
6 – Final chance to see the seniors at home. Amber Igiede. Riley Wagoner. Kennedi Evans. Talia Edmonds. Kendra Ham. Chandler Cowell. All took different routes in making their way to Senior Week here for the University of Hawai`i Rainbow Wahine program. Some of have been here for five years (due to the conference cancelling the 2020 season because of Covid-19). Others have transferred in for their final two or three years. For any UH program, it doesn’t matter if the player was born in state or recruited to the islands from their hometown on the mainland or from their country. The Hawai`i fan base takes these players in and treats them as if they are their own. Any senior night is special and if you don’t normally attend a home game in person, find a way if you can to get a ticket and attend senior night. There are senior nights…and then there are senior nights in Hawai`i. No one does senior nights quite like Hawai`i…in any sport…at any level. Throw in long-time rival Long Beach State as the opponent and also the possibility of clinching a quarterfinal bye in the Big West Championship, it’s a night you won’t want to miss.