Senior opposite Rado Parapunov kept his streak of double-digit kills alive when putting down 27 and senior middle Patrick Gasman added a career-high 17 as No. 1 Hawai’i survived a huge scare from No.7 Long Beach State to remain undefeated with a 24-26, 32-30, 25-17, 20-25, 15-8 Big West volleyball victory Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the 17th straight match that Parapunov has had 10 or more kills dating back to last season. Junior libero Gage Worsley finished with a career-high 17 digs as the Warriors (11-0, 6-0 Big West) remained perfect on the year.
It was the seventh time in their last 10 meetings that Hawai’i and Beach went to five and the second straight five-setter at the Sheriff Center that the Warriors prevailed. This one lasted 3 hours and 14 minutes, which included 64 minutes for a Set 2 that had multiple delays over complaints by Beach about the loudness of the piped-in crowd noise.
Leading Beach (3-3, 3-3 Big West) was sophomore Spencer Olivier, who had a career-high 25 kills. Senior hitter Ethan Siegfried (Punahou) added 19 kills.
Parapunov also had two aces which gave him 104 for his career, moving him to No. 5 in the UH record book.
Long Beach State outblocked Hawai’i 17-14 with Simon Andersen in on 11. Despite hitting .038 in Set 5, Beach finished hitting .444 on the night.
“It was good to beat the defending champions,” Parapunov said of Beach, which won the NCAA titles in 2018 and 2019. “They are our rivals and they play amazing volleyball.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win a five-set game. We’re warriors. We’ve got to defend the aina, protect this house. That was our mentality.”
Hawai’i was without senior Colton Cowell, an integral part of the Warriors’ serve-receive formation as well as an offensive weapon. The King Kekaulike product injured an ankle in warmups on Friday but played, finishing with 14 kills and a career-high eight blocks.
“You look at our veteran guys … Rado, Pat, Gage … they all stepped up,” Hawai’i coach Charlie Wade said of playing with Cowell. “We didn’t set (Patrick) enough (Friday) and tonight we got 24 kills out of our middles. Max (Rosenfeld) went 7-0-9 and did a nice job.”
Replacing Cowell was freshman Spyros Chakas, who had five kills, five digs and four block.
Hawai’i setter Jakob Thelle finished with a career-high 59 assists and the match-ending kill.
“Gage was a leader tonight,” Parapunov said. “He is the best libero in the country. And Patrick took over (Set 2).”
Gasman had six kills with no errors on nine swings with four blocks in the critical Set 2.
Set 1 had 13 ties, the last when Beach held off Hawai’i’s set point to knot it at 24. The Warriors couldn’t stop the momentum as Beach repeated what it had done Friday, taking Set 1.
Things were not looking good for Hawai’i as the Warriors trailed most of Set 2, down by as much as 15-10 and late 20-16. Hawai’i didn’t fold, rallying again to take set point at 24-23. Again Beach tied at 24.
The Beach had two set points, the Warriors five and Hawai’i finally ended it when Mason Briggs’ bump set went wide an hit the antenna.
Set 2 took over an hour to play, courtesy of three stoppages when the Beach bench and coaches complained about the piped-in crowd noise being too loud.
“The arena staff, manager Rich Sheriff, know the rules,” Wade said. “They weren’t going to do anything that was illegal. I told (Beach coach Alan Knipe) to deal with it, it’s crowd noise.
“We were struggling at that point and it (the delay) probably helped us.”
Hawai’i came out of the locker room with all the moment. The Beach continued to have no answer for Gasman, who added five kills in Set 3 to tie his career high.
The Warriors dominated the entire way, jumping out to leads of 14-7 and 18-11. Hawai’i needed to two set points to take the 2-1, finishing it off on a kill by Chakas.
The momentum was flipped in Set 4 with Beach pulling away for good at 4-3.
Hawai’i jumped out to a 2-0 in Set 5 and never trailed. It was the first five-setter of the season for the Warriors and the second in eight days for Beach. Long Beach State won in a reverse sweep last Saturday at UC Irvine.
Hawai’i’s magic number is one to clinch the top seed in the Big West tournament that will be played at the Sheriff Center later this month.