Hawai’i hasn’t posted the box yet. Above is the live stats box
By Cindy Luis
Hawai’i recorded the program’s 1,300th victory Saturday and it couldn’t have been bigger. Six days after losing a five-setter to one Pac-12 team — UCLA — the Rainbow Wahine pulled off a reverse sweep of the Bruins’ cross-town rival USC.
Bolstered by a vocal crowd of 4,925 inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Hawai’i got the signature win it desperately wanted before heading into Big West play. Led by junior hitter Riley Wagner’s 17 kills and 15 from junior middle Amber Igiede, the Wahine outlasted the Women of Troy, 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-6.
The crowd loudly belted out “Don’t Stop Believing” in concert-like fashion, complete with cellphone “lighters.” Hawai’i didn’t
It took 2 hours and 40 minutes but it was more than worth it to the Wahine (3-5) who had lost both times they previously had gone to five: at Texas A&M in the season opener and last Sunday to UCLA, the latter where they led Set 4 23-18 and couldn’t close.
The Wahine had 11 hitting errors in dropping the first two sets but were consistent the last three, committing just two errors in each of the sets. Wagoner and Igiede did not have an error in Set 5, Wagoner going 5-for-6 and Igiede 4-for-7.
Igiede had the Wahine’s first three kills and four of six as Hawai’i pulled away for good at 8-7. Serving sub Kendra Ham, who had a key 7-0 serving run in Set 3, had another in the final 10 minutes, this a 4-0 one that had USC calling both timeouts.
It was 12-7 when she was done and, basically, so were the Women of Troy. Sophomore setter Mia Tuaniga cut it to 12-8 but Wagner answered with her final kill and Emilia Week hit wide to give Hawai’i match point.
The Wahine only needed one with Igiede and sophomore setter Kate Lang stuffing Weske to end it on Hawai’i’s 10th block.
“This is probably one of my favorite matches of my college career,” said Lang, who finished with 41 assists and had two of the team’s eight aces. “(After the block) I turn around and my entire team is running to me. It was nuts.”
“It was amazing,” Wahine coach Robyn Ah Mow said. “I told them in the locker room this was 90 percent them, maybe 10 percent of the coaching staff.
“Going into the third, they just talked among themselves and it was literally a different team that came out. I don’t know what they said. They never gave up.”
“A reverse sweep, the first of my career,” said Ham, who transferred from Cal Poly in 2021. “A lot of teams would have given up and we dug ourselves out and kept fighting.”
It really started in Set 3 behind Ham’s serving when the Wahine trailed 12-11. Hawai’i never trailed again the rest of the way, including the blowout Set 4.
The Wahine jumped out 5-1 then rolled out to margins of 22-12 and 23-13. The only tie the rest of the way was at 7-7 in Set 5.
Ah Mow credit the resiliency of Wagoner, the team captain, who hit negative .022 with 12 kills and 13 errors in Friday’s four-set loss to the Women of Troy.
“Riley is a baller,” Ah Mow said. “I’m going to be very truthful, which I am with the girls. She got it hard (in the locker room after Friday’s match.
“Tonight, she did exactly what we told her to do. Hit high, go hands, tool (the block). That girl came back and she was awesome.”
USC (5-3) got 25 kills from senior hitter Skylar Fields, a senior transfer from Texas. She had two of SC’s six kills in the Set 5 and finished with 10 digs.
Tuaniga, a transfer from Long Beach State, finished with a double-double (53 assists-17 digs). Jordan Wilson added 15 kills for the Women of Troy.
Sophomore libero Tayli Ikenaga had 12 digs and Ham 11. The Wahine won the block war 10-6 with Igiede in on six, and Lang and Tiffany Westerberg both with three.
Hawai’i next holds its Green-White Scrimmage at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Wahine alumnae match returns for the first time since 2019 and is scheduled for a 4:45 p.m. start.
Hawai’i opens up defense of its Big West title against UC Davis Friday, Sept. 23, at the SSC.