By Cindy Luis
Drop Set 1? No worries, at least not according to Hawai’i libero Gage Worsley.
The All-American said he would have been concerned had the top-ranked Warriors NOT followed what has become their “tradition” this season.
Hawai’i had dropped the opening set on opening night against an opponent in two of the previous four series and, when falling 25-23 in Set 1 Friday night against No. 7 Long Beach State, it was “OK, we’re right on schedule,” Worsley said. “OK, boys, let’s go now.”
Hawai’i did just that, as well as avoided going to a fifth, when turning back Beach, 23-25, 25-14, 25-13, 26-24, to remain unbeaten.
All-American opposite Rado Parapunov put down a match-high 17 kills, his 16th consecutive match in double digits, moving him into 13th place on UH’s all-time kill list (1,133). The Bulgarian native also added two aces to put him alone at No. 6 all-time with 102.
Colton Cowell added 14 kills and Chaz Galloway 10 for the Warriors (10-0, 5-0 Big West). Libero Gage Worsley had a season-high 14 digs, the 19th time in his career with 10 or more, and Patrick Gasman and Cowell both were in on eight of the team’s season-high 15.5 blocks.
Spencer Olivier led Beach (3-2, 3-2) with 14 kills and Clark Godbold 10. Libero Mason Briggs had 10 of the team’s 32 digs.
“They’re a different team than what we’ve seen this season, they’re bigger, hit harder,” said Worsley, finishing with a season-high 14 digs. “After Set 1, we started putting balls away and just played better volleyball.
“We cleaned things up (after Set 1). Our block was so big tonight.”
No one was bigger than the 6-foot-10 Gasman, whose seven block assists puts him third all-time at 396, and whose eight total blocks has him at No. 3 all-time with 441.
Long Beach State had come in averaging 10-plus blocks a match. Beach finished with seven, 4.5 coming in Set 4 when threatening to send it to a fifth set.
Despite hitting .065 in Set 4, with 10 errors, the Warriors held on. They needed three match points to end it, 24-22, 24-23 and 25-24.
Galloway and Max Rosenfeld stuff Godbold to send Parapunov back for his final serve at 25-24. Parapunov then nailed his right-side attack to finish it.
The teams meet again Saturday at 7 p.m.
Warrior coach Charlie Wade was disappointed in how Set 1 finished. Hawai’i was up 19-14 and couldn’t close.
“Guys started searching for sidelines when we didn’t need to,” he said of line shots the Warriors attempted. “And those 10 hitting errors in Set 4 … it’s more than we usually do. It’s nice to see that we can win when we aren’t playing all that well.
“We want to be more efficient (Saturday).”
Beach used two setters, freshman Aidan Knipe and senior Ryan Poole, a converted outside hitter making his first career start at setter. Wade said that he didn’t see much difference in the two, adding, “They both run the same offense.”
Hawai’i ran its home conference win streak to 10.