Flat as a blue tortilla, Hawai’i swept at UC Santa Barbara; other results

Friday’s other scores at bottom

Box: https://hawaiiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=wvball&id=26532

By Cindy Luis

Those slow starts finally caught up with Hawai’i.

On Friday, the Rainbow Wahine looked as flat as the infamous blue tortillas that UC Santa Barbara fans used to toss after — and sometimes during — Gaucho athletic contests when being swept at the Thunderdome, 25-16, 25-16, 25-23. The 87-minute victory lifted UCSB (13-9, 9-1) into first place in the Big West volleyball standing with Hawai’i (11-6, 8-1) a half-game back heading into Saturday’s match at CSUN (4-15, 3-6).

Attendance had been capped at 1,000 and the sold-out crowd saw the Gauchos defeat the Wahine for the first time in Isla Vista since 1993. Hawai’i won both in 1995 — the teams alternated hosting two matches back then and, after a stint in the Western Athletic Conference, had won the last eight since returning to the Big West in 2012.

The loss also snapped the Wahine’s conference win streak at 19 dating back to 2019, a streak started with a sweep at UCSB on Oct. 12 following a loss at Cal Poly the night before. Other winning streaks that ended Friday for the Wahine were their nine-match conference road skein, also dating to that 2019 match at UCSB, and this season’s high of eight consecutive wins. 

Hawai’i had no answer for UCSB’s efficient offense with the Gauchos hitting .359 on the night with just seven hitting errors. Four of those errors came in Set 3 where the Wahine were the most competitive and tied it at 22.

UCSB had three attackers with 10 or more kills, and the trio had a combined two hitting errors. Senior middle Rowan Ennis had 11 kills with one error, hitting .714; freshman hitter Abrielle Bross added 10 kills on 23 errorless swings; and freshman hitter MIchelle Ohwobete had 10 kills with one error, as well as all four of UCSB’s aces.

The match was to feature the two top blocking teams in the Big West. It ended up being no contest as the Gauchos finished with an 11-3 edge in stuffs. Sophomore middle Deni Wilson was in on eight an Bross four.

UCSB also had a 52-45 margin in digs, led by sophomore Macall Peed’s 23.

Senior hitter Brooke Van Sickle finished with 11 kills for Hawai’i, just missing a double-double with nine kills. Sophomore middle Amber Igiede added 10 kills and freshman libero Tayli Ikenaga 10 digs.

Now about those slow starts. Last Saturday, Hawai’i trailed 7-1 and 6-0 in Set 1 and 2, respectively before rallying to sweep Cal State Baskerfield.

It happened again Friday but there would be no rallies. The Wahine’s only leads of Set 1 were at 1-0 and 2-1. The Gauchos went on a 5-0 run and never looked back, leading by as much as nine.

In Set 2, Hawai’i trailed from 1-0 without ever managing to tie. The Wahine got it to 19-15 only to have the Gauchos answer with three straight, outscoring UH 6-1 to take a 2-0 lead.

The Wahine flipped their lineup in Set 3, with Igiede in the front line at middle instead of senior Skyler Williams. The switch seemed to pay off with Hawai’i’s biggest lead coming at 10-7.

UCSB caught Hawai’i at 11, one of 15 ties. The Wahine’s last lead came at 13-12, on a kill by Van Sickle, but the Gauchos soon would lead 17-14, a run that included two aces by Ohwobete ad Ennis’ 10th kill.

Hawai’i managed to tie at 19, 20, 21 and 22, but never could retake the lead. Van Sickle’s last kill staved off one match point at 24-23 but Ennis ended it.

Wahine freshman setter Kate Lang finished with 32 assists, 6 digs, 2 kills and 1 block assist. The Wahine were without an ace for the second straight match and hit .174, the lowest percentage in nine conference matches.

Sharing setting duties in UCSB’s 6-2 offense were junior Grace Kloss (19 assists, 9 digs) and junior Mehana Ma’a (23 assists, 6 digs). Ma’a, the daughter of former Hawai’i players Pono Ma’a and Lisa Strand, transferred from Cal State San Bernardino where she led the Coyotes to the NCAA Division II championship in 2019.

Friday’s results

Home teams in bold

Big West

Cal Poly def. UC San Diego 25-15, 18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-12
Cal State Fullerton def. UC Davis 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-11
CSU Bakersfield def. UC Irvine 16-25, 24-26, 25-17, 25-18, 16-14
UC Riverside def. Long Beach State 20-25, 25-22, 13-25, 25-23, 15-9
Top 25

1) Texas def. Iowa State 25-18, 25-22, 25-22
2) Louisville def. Virginia 25-15, 25-13, 25-16
3) Wisconsin def. 6) Ohio State 26-24, 25-22, 18-25, 25-14
4) Pittsburgh def. Notre Dame 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-10
5) Kentucky def. Arkansas 25-22, 25-13, 25-27, 19-25, 15-8
8) BYU def. 21) San Diego 25-17, 25-13, 25-13
10) Washington def. Cal 25-23, 20-25, 25-12, 25-23
11) Baylor def. West Virginia 26-24, 25-20, 25-22
13) Georgia Tech def. Syracuse 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19
14) Penn State def. 12) Minnesota 25-18, 27-25, 25-22
15) Stanford def. 22) Washington State 26-28, 25-15, 23-25, 28-26, 15-8
17) UCLA def. 16) Oregon 25-20, 25-22, 25-23
Arizona State def. 18) Utah 25-23, 25-23, 27-25, 28-26
19) Western Kentucky def. Florida Atlantic 25-18, 25-15, 25-17
24) Creighton def. Georgetown 25-14, 25-17, 25-16

USC def. Oregon State 25-22, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17

2 Comments

  1. As I’ve advocated all season, need to get Amber more swings. The offense does not have a attacker other than BVS who has a strong striking swing. Moving her to left or right side hitter will improve offense.

    • when they can pass, Igiede gets plenty of swings. Do not see her being moved to the outside. She’ll start running the slide more. And, at some point, she’ll get included in the 3-meter attack.

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