Hawaii returns with a goal to take out Big West rivals Cal Poly

Nov. 19—As Cal Poly suffered an opening loss in Friday’s Big West Volleyball match, the Rainbow Wahine huddled in the tunnel behind the bench in the final moments of the break.

A quiet moment off the field set the tone for Hawaii’s rough finish.

As Cal Poly reveled in an opening set in Friday’s Big West volleyball game, the Rainbow Wahine huddled in the tunnel behind the bench for the final moments of the break.

“I think stepping out of the gym really helps us restart,” said UH setter Kate Lang. “Because after the first set we really just needed to take a breather and we needed to just be the team for a second and talk to each other and find out what was going on internally because we knew the first set wasn’t us . “

When the Wahine reemerged, they treated the white-out night crowd to wipeouts in the next two sets, highlighted by a 10-point serve from Kendra Ham in the second and Lang’s 13-point turn in the third.

Cal Poly appeared poised to force a fifth set as the Mustangs took a 10-2, 16-8 lead thanks in part to four aces.

But UH caught and passed Cal Poly with another extended run with Lang on the line, finishing a 16-25, 25-12, 25-16, 25-23 win in front of a now roaring crowd of 6,036 at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“I told them before the game, ‘If you don’t see me panicking, don’t panic,'” said UH coach Robyn Ah Mow. “I believe in these girls.

“We just had to take care of our tasks and blocking tasks, serve harder and pass balls.”

The Wahine (19-6, 16-1 Big West) have nine straight wins since a four-set loss at Cal Poly on Oct. 15 and built a two-game lead over second-placed UC Santa Barbara, who lost at UC Davis in five sets on Thursday – in the conference race with three games remaining.

UH middle blocker Amber Igiede shrugged off a shaky start to rack up a match-high 17 kills, and outside hitter Caylen Alexander finished with 16 kills on .444 hitting in one of her most complete matches in her freshman year.

She also added three blocks and eight digs, several of which helped extend Lang’s run in the second set, and got her last three kills on UH’s 7-0 run late in the fourth.

“She’s definitely growing with every game,” said Ah Mow.

UH versus Braelyn Akana got their 10th kill at match point and UH earned a season series split with Cal Poly.

Igiede and her middle blocker Tiffany Westerberg each featured in five of UH’s ten blocks, while Cal Poly finished with six.

Igiede had three kills and two errors in 10 attempts in the first set, then helped spark the comeback with six kills on seven swings in the second.

“I literally didn’t feel like myself, I don’t know why,” said Igiede of the slow start. “I think it’s because we know we didn’t play that well last time we lost to them, so maybe we tried to do too much. So (Ah Mow) just rattled us a bit and (said) ‘Come on, let’s clear your head.’ “

Outside hitter Riley Wagoner had a quiet five-kill night offensively but contributed 10 digs to UH’s defensive efforts.

Akana was credited with two block assists in the match, but her work with Westerberg at the net in a key sequence in the fourth set, despite not registering on the box score, proved crucial.

The duo sent back three attacks from Big West kills leader Tommi Stockham to extend a rally that ended with the Mustangs batting long to extend Lang’s service turn and cut Cal Poly’s lead to 20-19.

After a Cal Poly timeout, Akana pulled off a flyover to level the set and Alexander followed up with back-to-back kills to give UH a 22-20 lead. From there, the Wahine traded sideouts and Akanas 10. Kill ended the night.

Stockham led Cal Poly (16-12, 13-5) with 11 kills and the Mustangs were eliminated from contention for the conference title.

Facing Maia Dvoracek, who had 21 kills in the first clash with UH, finished the tournament with nine kills at .34 and had four of the Mustangs’ eight aces.

UH ended the game with three aces, but still dominated the match from the service line. Ham, who began her career at Cal Poly, had an ace on her leading run in the second set. Lang’s turn in the third set turned a 5-4 deficit into an 18-5 UH lead.

“It was really cool. I was like, ‘Oh shoot, wow, I’m going back here,'” Lang said. “But it felt good because I knew that even when the ball got a perfect pass, my front row was always live and totally ahead of the game. It was nice to know it didn’t have to be an ace. “

The Rainbow Wahine return to the training hall today, completing Sunday’s home game schedule against CSU Bakersfield. UH setter Mylana Byrd is honored after the Senior Day Match.

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