Struggles turned into q strength.
No. 1 Hawaii was coming off last Friday’s match against No. 6 Ball State where the Warriors committed 23 service errors. The turnaround was dramatic as Warriors had just five on Wednesday night against Saint Francis.
More importantly, Hawai’i had eight aces, including a walk-off one by reserve hitter Keoni Thiim, to sweep Saint Francis, 25-16, 25-18, 25-23, at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff.
Thiim teamed with middle Cole Hogland to break a 23-23 tie in Set 3 then blasted a 76-mph serve to end it after 98 minutes. It gave Hawaii (3-0) its 12th straight victory dating to last season. and it gave Thiim a career high.
The Red Flash, visiting the islands for the first time, dropped to 0-3.
The teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m.
Warrior coach Charlie Wade began substituting late int Set 2. By Set 3, only senior setter Jakob Thelle and junior middle Cole Hogland remained in the starting lineup.
Senior hitter Akana took advantage of the playing opportunity, putting down a career-high seven kills with just one error.
“The (starters) make it really easy, telling me things (from the bench),” said Akana, a Punahou product who transferred in from BYU. “They help me with the technical stuff like on blocking, what the opponent is doing,”
What ever happened worked as Hawai’i ran its home winning streak to 21 The teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m., a match preceded by an alumni vs. alumni match at 4 p.m.
Wednesday night Akana and Thiim went from serving subs to outside hitters. The Warriors also brought in sophomore libero ‘Eleu Choy, redshirt freshman middle Kurt Nesturer and junior opposite Alkali Todd to start Set 3.
Junior hitter Dimitrious Mouchlias led Hawai’i with eight kills playing the first two sets, committing just one error to hit .700, Akana finished with seven kills with just an error and junior hitter Chaz Galloway six kills and a career-high three aces in two sets for the Warriors.
All of Galloway’s aces came in Set 1 which the Warriors led after it was tied 1-1.
The Red Flash got 12 ills from Nathan Zini. Brand Dunz matched his kill total with his block total (5).
For the third straight match Hawai’i was outblocked. On Wednesday it was 7-4. But the Warriors made up for it with a .324 hitting advantage for the .175 by Saint Francis.